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The Attic Tapes
Soul Is Cheap Records/ Liberty & Lament

The band whose name is taken from the Spanish word for "blazing star" are back with their latest release The Attic Tapes following last year's release of their fourth full length album Nobody's Darling. Previously, Lucero had released their self-titled debut in 2000, a sophomore album in 2002 called Tennessee, and a third effort in 2003 entitled That Much Further West. Lucero's music has been described as country punk with raw grit, grating vocals, and edgy punk textures mingled with lap steel, accordion, mandolin, and violin seedlings. They have been aligned with Ryan Adams, Marc Bolan, the North Mississippi Allstars, and Hank Williams Jr.. They make bluegrass with a brazen approach as if the templates of the genre formatted by Ricky Skaggs and Patty Loveless don't apply to them.

There are traditional sonic planes in Lucero's music and inventive chord plays that personalize the songs, projecting a sense that these songs have private significance. They have a global appeal in that people can relate to the down home emotions attached to family and friends being portrayed in the lyrics, while the music verses dance with the vocal melody, like partners in a flamenco dance. There is a romantic essence in the songs like in the number "The Blue And The Gray," which strolls sweetly as the accordion finger work moves in step with the syrupy drizzle of the vocals. "Took The Fall" is an easy piece to fall in love with drawn in by its rolling drum and guitar patterns and vocal rings.

Unlike the band's previous album which surfaced more rock drives, this album concentrates on the band's country tones. It's as if last year's release was designed to push them forward and this album caused them to look back and reflect on the memories nestled in their past, like in the track "Diamond State Heartbreak." The ambling piece with lithe violin gambols and a repetitive guitar hook unravels pent up emotions through the lyrics: "Wished I didn't want you/ Wished I didn't want you back/ You were my biggest loss so far/ You broke my heart."

Emotions are disentangled and released in these tracks while the music passages sweetly cradle the lyrical phrases. The tempos amble as the vocals drivel in a late at night rummy-induced state of mind when you're simply left with your thoughts and the afterglow of your experiences. These songs come from that period of afterglow, when the long day has come to a close and you wonder how you got here, like in the song "Summer Song." The songs reflect who they are and what it is like coming from the South.

Lucero have also included five bonus tracks which they dubbed their "Cowboy Demos." These tracks share a likeness with Johnny Cash, Amber Dotson, and Rodney Crowell. Tracks like " Wish Me Luck," "Katherine And Me," and "So Long Tonight" brim with whiskey-hued twangs and plunging flanges stringed by honest lyrical ruminations. "My Best Girl" personifies the guitar, giving it qualities of a true mate like having felt every emotion poured out from the musician playing it and being there for the musician without a complaint. Lucero plays showing all their heartaches and all their joy expressed through the resonance changes and clipped chords of their instrument lines.

Lucero's charm is their honesty in their lyrics and their music expressions. The music comes from some place genuine. They say that no one in the band is striving to be another Bruce Springsteen, but in Springsteen's early days, he wasn't striving for anything more than honesty in his music. In 2004, New York filmmaker, Aaron Goldman was taken by the band's character and made a documentary on them entitled Dreaming In America which was taped while the band was on tour.

Lucero comes from Memphis, Tennessee with a rowdy bunch of ruffians who believed that country/bluegrass music needed some chops and a fearless spine to go where others negated as genuine. Lead singer, accordion player, and guitarist Ben Nichols joined guitarist Brian Venable. They acquired Roy Berry on drums and John Stubblefield on bass guitar. Lucero used additional musicians for The Attic Tapes including Reiko on violin, Luther Dickinson on lap steel, Shane Calloway on drums, Jeremy Freeze on bass, and Mark McKinney on backing vocals and guitar. For a band who describe themselves as a "Touring Rock Band," it's been their tours that have kept them afloat and built up their momentum with the public, and they don't seem to want to stop it all now.

-Susan Frances

1. Into Your Eyes
2. Diamond State Heartbreak
3. Hello Sadness
4. Gone To The Sea
5. Summer Songs
6. In Lonesome Times
7. A Heart So True
8. Took The Fall
9. The Blue And The Gray

Bonus Tracks (The Cowboy Demos):
1. Wish Me Luck
2. Katherine and Me
3. So Long Tonight
4. My Best Girl
5. Kiss The Bottle

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