Oct. 20, 2016 11:58 AM

In contemporary country music, things are so far from the way Hank done it that Cheap Trick, Pit Bull and Pharrell Williams recently performed with mainstream country stars on CMT’s awards show. In the sphere of whatever-that-is, there’s nothing there like Doublewide. With an ear towards alt. country rock a la the Drive-By Truckers, Doublewide is the band Motorhead’s Lemmy Kilmister would have fronted in Austin 12 years ago.

Although there is more than enough twang and subject matter to place it in the spectrum of country music, there’s also foot pounding rhythms and rock howl. It’s not a trucker hat clone but it sure isn’t Keith Urban. Even though they don’t punctuate their country-ness with references to back roads and highways, this country road is dusty, rocky and raw.

Lead singer Matthew Thornton’s gravelly take on country music reflects a blue collar aesthetic that reeks of realness absent from the music of studio darlings. Instead of the usual country blue collar vibe, Doublewide is a sun-up-to-past-sundown laborer with its presets in the truck set to country radio — just for the old school country show on Saturday night — and a classic rock station, plus has a little something heavier in the CD player.

“One O’Clock” and “Jukebox” set the pace with a sound reminiscent of the Drive-By Truckers but grittier and with more twang. “You and Me” is completely off the path, sounding more like a 1990s alt. rock B-side. Even though they sit at opposite ends of the spectrum, “Lowdown Man,” with its rough mid-90s rock feel, and the updated rocking honky-tonker “Jukebox” are the two best cuts on the double disc. “I Feel Bad,”a throwback Western rockabilly exploration of a rock song, is a close third. The closest Doublewide gets to radio standard is on “Back to Life,” but has a lot more substance and texture than the thin and runny studio sounds churned out of Nashville. “Song About a Train” either takes a tongue-in-cheek aim at traditional country cliches or revels in them. Either way, it is a chuckle-worthy reminder of the genre’s more humorous habit.

The self-titled record may pull from other places and bounce its sounds (far) off others, but it manages to cut its own unique stride. An incredibly ambitious record with zero filler, it was recorded and finished by the best in local music — Leap Studios, Ivan Klisanin and Tony Daigle — and features guest spots by Sweet Cecilla and Feufollet’s Chris Stafford. Doublewide might never duet with the next big star — traditional or crossover — on the next big awards show, but they have created a solid record that has a great reach and does well with its grasp on strong country.


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