Chris Shiflett & The Dead Peasants
While the cat is away the mice will play and, with Dave Grohl lost in the never ending jam session that is Them Crooked Vultures, his Foo Fighters sidekicks have pilfered the keys to the studio and set about their own solo projects. Here we have the product of guitarist Chris Shiflett’s labours and, like drummer Taylor Hawkins earlier in the year, he’s gone back to his roots. Whereas Hawkins’ album came saturated with his love for the histrionics of Queen and the stompalong glam of Mud, Chris Shiflett and The Dead Peasants is a smorgasbord of radio-friendly, country tinged, power-pop which deftly melds the freeway cruising pop sensibilities of Cheap Trick with the rootsy twang of Tom Petty. The genesis of the project was an invitation for Shiflett to perform a short set at the 2008 Orange County Hootenanny (Hootenanny!! – Ed) and, having rekindled his love for classic Americana, he set about the task of writing a whole album. It’s a largely successful, if unspectacular, project and one which is undoubtedly significantly enhanced by the calibre of guest he’s been able to call upon to provide some class a country credibility, most notably Wilco’s Greg Leisz whose subtle yet effective infusion of pedal steel provides the signature sound of the album. There’s certainly nothing here to alienate fans of the Foo Fighters; while the guitars may lack a bit of dirt the classic pop sensibilities remain intact. Just check out ‘Get Along’ for a hit of the kind of breezy, guitar driven simplicity that MTv was founded upon and wrap yourselves tight in the shimmering pedal steel licks of ‘Bandaged’ for evidence of the commercial appeal. It won’t change your life, but it might just brighten up your journey home on the south circular.