Smokestack Lightnin' Home Page -- The Blues Profile Page

Somewhat like the result of Tom Waits and Kid Rock sharing the stage, Tony C. & the Truth play gritty party music that resonates with individuality partly due to their lead singer's compelling and distinctive personality. DJ Prestige spins the beats that pepper this music, adding an inner-city tinge to the band's tough rock and gutsy funk. On paper it doesn't sound particularly inviting, but the production by Kyle Kelso keeps the loose edges taut and the music in the pocket. Just when you think you've figured out their angle, the bandmembers introduce an unexpected sample or a swampy power chord, twisting the sound in a different direction. The slow, gooey Southern feel of "Got It Made" takes a slide guitar and layers on chunky arena-sized guitars to detonate in an alternately gruff and subtle power ballad. Tony C.'s boomy six-pack-a-day voice recalls Omar Dykes of Omar & the Howlers, especially when he steamrolls through the ZZ Top-ish "One for the Road." The whiskey-soaked gospel groove of "No Pain" is another sudden turn and one that also works astonishingly well within the album's rather wide parameters. Speeding up the Beastie Boys' "Fight for Your Right (To Party)" and grinding it out like Lynyrd Skynyrd and Van Halen coming to blows makes it even more rousing than the original. "Medusa" nicks its ominous riff from Morphine's "Buena," but the approach fits perfectly with Tony C.'s crusty vocals and the addition of scratching slaps on an urban vibe. Fusing aspects of metal, hip-hop, and Southern rock, this band's unusual style is a cool combination of retro with contemporary. Their streetwise debut is an innovative, powerful, yet festive platter that explodes out of the speakers with fiery determination, offbeat style, and a wicked sense of humor. ~ Hal Horowitz