Hammertorch CD Release

Sometimes Hammertorch crank out the type of driving, blue-collar alt-country—saturated with influence from the Stones to Gram Parsons—that most native Tennesseans might find perfectly familiar. The pounding barroom piano, colossal drum sounds and melancholic vocals of songs like “Breakneck Speed” are of an elusively palatable and smart Southern-rock ilk. But it’s tunes like “Cemetery Dance”—with its entrancing steel-guitar hook and astonishingly appropriate disco beat—that let you know these dudes are truly on to something. “Too Little Too Late” is an epic, echoing ballad just a generation removed from Crazy Horse or The Band, while “Roger McFadden’s Danger Society” bursts into riffy interludes so sharply played that we’re tempted to call them “Countrytallica.” But we won’t. We will say, however, that Hammertorch’s latest, Lions Don’t Cry, is much, much smarter than the vast majority of country-tinged rock ’n’ roll you’re likely to come across, and it’s played by a set of guys probably skillful enough to have careers on Music Row. You know, if that’s what they were into.

D. Patrick Rogers