Liberty and Lament Records
Underdog rock always feels so good. Maybe it’s the booze talking, or maybe just that sinking feeling that everyone sitting in a bar on a Wednesday night, living for the moment, can identify with. Lucero have come to embody this spirit in a style that carries the torch of Uncle Tupelo and feeds the fire with a relentless punk touring ethic and a brutally honest delivery. Four records into a career plagued by the indie pitfalls of crumbling labels and DIY touring, Tennessee’s Lucero seem no worse for wear; if anything they wear it on their sleeves.
On Nobody’s Darlings, singer/guitarist Ben Nichols and his band of country-punk misfits have made good on the slow-burn hype of 2003’s That Much Further West and delved into an even deeper Southern sound — an inspired mess, equal parts Replacements and Drive-By Truckers, that still brims with youthful excitement. Nichols’ tattered voice leads the charge and sounds like it has lost many a fight with a smoky night. The only detriment to his warbled yell is the occasional stumble into unintelligible howls, but the fact that he could careen out of control at any moment only amplifies the songs he manages to hold together. There’s even a touch of Springsteen in his old soul, apparent in the Nebraska-styled character study of ‘The War’ as well as in the confidence that allows him to deliver self-effacing rock cliché lines like “We ain’t nobody’s darlings so shut up and play that guitar,” without inducing even the slightest cringe in the listener. There’s no reason not to wish these guys all the success in the world, but at the same time everything they do sounds so much better down in the trenches