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Moreland & Arbuckle Vow 'Promised Land Or Bust' on Alligator Records Debut [REVIEW]

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Jun 20, 2016 02:56 PM EDT | Mike Greenblatt (

Moreland & Arbuckle

Moreland & Arbuckle need nothing but a drummer to vow 'Promised Land Or Bust.' (Photo : Gavin Peters)

Indie-rock garage punk blues may cram too many sub-genres into one lead sentence but when it comes to Moreland & Arbuckle's Alligator Records Promised Land or Bust debut (the home of "Genuine Houserockin' Music" as it correctly bills itself), it's an apt description.

Guitarist Aaron Moreland, 42, bashed out his anger in garage bands for half his life until he heard "Death Letter Blues" by Son House [1902-1988] when he was 22. Singer/harmonica player Dustin Arbuckle, 35, was always into the blues. They bonded in their hometown of Wichita, Kansas in 2001. By 2002, they were gigging yet couldn't seem to hold on to any bassist of merit. No problem! They still don't have a bassist but, then again, neither did Hound Dog Taylor & The Houserockers, Alligator's very first signee in 1971, and the band from which Alligator took its company phrase.

These 11 tracks rock with an unabashed fervor that tells blues purists to go take a hike. I may be partial to "Mean and Evil" and their scintillating cover of Slim Harpo's 1957 "I'm A King Bee" (better even than the Stones on their 1964 England's Newest Hit Makers debut), but tracks like "Hannah," "Waco Avenue," "Long Did I Hide It," "Woman Down in Arkansas" and "When the Lights Are Burning Low" (see hot, hot vid below) are reminders that you can throw the genre handbook out the window when it comes to Moreland & Arbuckle.

The CD is festooned with the celebratory kick of keyboards and bass. Music journalist David McGee, who wrote Go Cat Go: The Life & Times of Carl Perkins, The King of Rockabilly, calls the drumming of Kendall Newby "righteous thunder." But, live? That's it, daddy. Guitar, harmonica, drums, vocals. Still, despite this minimalistic live mindset, I hear their gigs are like tent-show revival meetings. The feeling is so in-your-face that I wonder if the rumor is true that some folks in their crowds start talking in tongues. This I gotta see.

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