A Fix Back East
On their second album, Tarbox Ramblers outgrow a tasteful reverence for roots, making grimy, thrilling noise. Led by the agonized vocals of Michael Tarbox, this Boston band acts like the last 40 years never happened, peeling away decades of other folks' clumsy blues and country-rock adaptations to reveal the crazed intensity at the music's core. Tarbox is an inventive guitarist, unspooling subtle slide licks and raspy boogie riffs, seconded by Daniel Kellar's ominous violin. "Honey Babe" echoes the swagger of Howlin' Wolf, while "Last Month of the Year" blends soaring voices and pounding drums in an uneasy celebration. A Fix Back East depicts both sin and salvation, but Tarbox makes the ailment sound more enticing than the cure.