On this follow-up to their 2011 self-titled debut, this snappily dressed Ventura, CA foursome serves up another round of raucous, swampy country/blues-inspired rock. Though the group’s signature sound feels comfortably familiar on the surface, further listens reveal subtler, wider-ranging influences. Unusually, frontman Ian McFadyen wields an electric banjo as his primary instrument, going toe-to-toe with guitarist Whitey Wingland to produce thick, stinging leads. The driving Chuck Berry/Little Richard rhythms (fueled by bassist Michael Dominguez and drummer Chris Jensen) on opener “More Than You Can Handle” channel ‘50s/60s R&B, as do the Isley Brothers/Human Beinz “Nobody But Me”-isms on the chugging, harmonica-drenched “Get Wit it Now.”
Elsewhere, “For You” marries a Kinks “You Really Got Me” riff with McFadyen’s Iggy Pop-like, New Values-era vocalizing, while the title track’s low, rumbling bassline recalls The Damned’s “Neat Neat Neat” and “#1 Stunner” whips up some New York Dolls-inspired trashy glam. And on the aptly-titled “Nile River Delta Blues,” the band blends a muted, boomy tribal drum with the oft-pilfered Ali Baba/snake charmer melody from “The Streets of Cairo” (or, more familiarly, “King Tut” and Looney Tunes cartoons!), topping it off with McFadyen’s bluesy Little Walter-like drawl.
Finally, a few gentler, reflective tracks – each ruminating on love in both its positive and negative guises – bring to mind ‘70s folk. On the quick-fingered, banjo-strummed “Wishing Well,” McFadyen coolly evokes recently departed Velvet Underground founder Lou Reed, while on the closing “Love Is” he resembles Jim Croce, before the song morphs into squealy, psychedelic-tinged boogie rock. It’s easy to see why they were #1 on ReverbNation’s local Americana chart; 50 Sticks of Dynamite prove that when combined with gritty playing and songwriting flair, this ubiquitous style never grows old.
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