Sometimes you just want to rock. No muss, no fuss – just bear down with a set of walloping drums, burly vocals and amp-frying guitars putting bluesy, big rawk melodies through the wringer. There are plenty of bands out there who can give you that experience with a reasonable degree of satisfaction, though they often sacrifice originality for consistency of attack. There’s nothing wrong with that approach – the ability to blast out the thunderboogie with no frills is an increasingly lost art. But it’s always nice when a band goes the extra mile and decides to compose songs instead of stringing together riffs.
That’s a lesson Austin, Texas trio Dixie Witch has taken to heart on its fourth LP Let It Roll. The band has long had its skillful blend of Black Sabbath and Blackfoot down cold, and it would have been easy to coast on the purely sensual pleasure of frontbeard Trinidad Leal‘s supple growl as it rides this grungy butt-rock beast. But after a few fine albums in that vein, the threesome apparently got restless. Aided by superb new guitarist JT Smith, Leal and bassist/vocalist Curt Christensen integrate a sense of soaring melody into their power chord fusillade, giving burning rockers “The High Deal,” “Sevens” and the appropriately titled “Anthem” a fresh roar. Putting some singalong tunefulness into some tracks lets the unabashed wailers like “December” and “Boogie Man” revel more gracefully in their sheer power. The Witch’s relentless onslaught has served it well in the past, especially live, but letting a little open air into Let It Roll injects new life into its classic sound.