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Buster Cousins Jacksonville (Hippy House Records)

Okay, so the band includes bass player Barry Dean from the excellent Brian Augers Oblivion Express as

well as Juan Perez, the original drummer for The Bellamy Brothers (notably, the first Cuban to play the Grand Ole Opry.) But even with a band full of pros, the spotlight still manages to shine on first cousins Timmy Keliher and Mark Emerick.

Keliher is a Florida based singer/songwriter and guitar monster who is lately best known for his work with the Galloway Kelliher Band. Cousin Mark Emerick lives in New York state and plays lead guitar for The Commander Cody Band. Of course, Mark is a southern boy at heart, and can often be found jamming with The Marshall Tucker Band and other respectable southern rockers.

The instrumental that opens the album. “Incident at Bed Springs Creek,” give a clear indi- cation as to just how hot both Emerick and Kelliher are on guitar. It kicks things off in fifth gear.

“Lights of Jacksonville” is one of my favorite tracks on the disc. Timmy Kelliher possesses a unique voice, and it stands out like a signature. Of course, my absolute favorite has to be “Outlaws and Renegades.” A really great song about outlaws from the old west all the way up to modern day outlaws. From cowboys to moon- shiners to gamblers, they are all covered. And the guitar playing has a real Dickey Betts/Toy Caldwell vibe that draws me right in. Matter of fact, let me play that one again before I move on. I like it!

“Tennessee Wind” really brings to mind the glory days of Marshall Tucker, with a vocal vaguely reminiscent of Toy Caldwell, and “Train, Train” is another favorite. I have always loved train songs and this one is a great a addition to the huge list of train songs. And no, this is not the song of the same title that Blackfoot record- ed. It’s an original country rocker.

Taken as a whole, Jacksonville is one fine piece of work from a couple of super talented individu- als and a few of their friends. It’s the real thing. Don’t just dip your toe in this southern swamp, take the plunge and dive in head first. But be careful, some of these guitar licks will rip your head off as fast as them Florida swamp ‘gators.

- Michael Buffalo Smith

Drivin’ n’ Cryin Songs from the Laundromat (Dirty Records)

Kevn Kinney and the boys pull out all the stops on this, the first in a series

of EP releases they have planned. To be honest, the guys turn out more good music with five songs than a lot of bands do with an over-full 15- song release.

The opening track, “Dirty,” rocks from start to finish. The first time through, I kept starting this song over. I couldn’t imagine the rest of the album measuring up after they had set the bar so high. Seriously, this is one of the strongest rock songs I have heard in years.

Next up is “Ain’t Waitin’ On Tomorrow.” I swear, the band sounds like Gov’t Mule on this one. Well, except for Kinney’s unmistakable vocal. Balls to the wall, baby.

“REM” is a near perfect tribute to fellow Georgia rockers REM, who recently hung up their rocking shoes. The music is reminicent of REM, especially with the vocal harmonies. On “Baloney,” the band puts on their punk shoes, and the resulting “song” is much shorter than the shortest Ramones tune. Even though it is only seconds long, it is the epitome of cool. Closing out the disc is “Clean Up,” another melodic, Drivin’ n’ Cryin’ tune, with shades of Tom Petty tossed in for good measure. Like I said at the outset, this is just a five-song EP- some may argue four songs- but it is one of the best releases of 2012 so far. There’a lot to be said for quality over quantity.

-Michael Buffalo Smith

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