Jeremy Porter and the Tucos – Above the Sweet Tea Line
Jeremy Porter and the Tucos play a hard, sinewy rock sound that’s tough to nail down. The Detroit brewed moonshine that the boys lay down is certainly indigenous to their home state. Yet, they also have that feel for southern-laced r n’ r that The Outlaws, Pat Travers and Marshall Tucker laid down in their prime years. More recently they could be a kindred spirit to New York’s “take no prisoners” rock monsters The Brought Low. Heck, even The Supersuckers would fit well with the band on the same bill.
So, there is a lot of rock n’ roll history and heritage across the ten tracks of Porter and the Tucos’ 2nd long-player Above the Sweet Tea Line. The title of the album itself is very apt because this brew is sure way above the sweet tea line in terms of sugar content. Those hopped up guitar licks and buoyant rhythms will have you bouncing off of the walls in no time. The album starts strong (“Josh”) and ends strong (“Trouble in Paradise”) with roughshod rock songs that shimmer with bare bones acoustic melodies going chin to chin with bravado rock guitar, heavy riffs, Porter’s muscular vocals and a rhythm section not known for its quiet time-keeping standards. Along the way, just about every single theme in rock that makes one a fan of the style is dropped at full volume with no shortage of gutsy lyrical prowess and white-hot instrumentation.
Restraint is rarely in the Tucos’ playbook with face-melting, guitar-focused jams such as “Bottled Regrets,” “Elimination Round,” “Hey Kentucky,” “Long Story” and “Sounds like Goodbye” utilizing brawny bass grooves, 50s riffs planted in southern soil, busy drumming, no holds barred vocal phrasings and just about every tool that makes rock a “hard” sound in the process blowing by and blasting you to smithereens. A little organ is sprinkled here, some piano there, a charming male/female vocal trade-off, multi-tracked guitars bringing the bluesy interplay and plenty more come hurtling at you with the force of a meteor shower in mid-May. It’s not “metal” by any stretch of the imagination, but the power of Porter and his band will get you shaking your hips and banging your head nonetheless. There is no shortage in his arsenal of riffs and grooves left behind, and the listener benefits big-time as a result. That’s not to say Porter eschews dynamics either. He gets downright lonesome and vulnerable on the vintage country tearjerker “Don’t Call Me Darlin’” which could have been a hit many moons ago had it been played by Conway Twitty or George Jones. “Knocked out Cold” lures you in with glistening acoustic guitar before throwing a curveball of jitterbug rock n’ roll right in your path and “Sleepy Eyes” is a ballad so soothing that it could actually double as a lullaby and no one would blink in an eye. For the record, “Sleepy Eyes” isn’t a boring piece; it’s just beautiful and lulls you into a state of pure bliss and tranquility.
Porter and the Tucos are easily one of the most exciting rock bands to come out of Michigan in ages. This is the first I’ve heard of this notable talent and I will certainly go back and check on his prior work based on the strength of this album. Anyone with an ear for old school rock n’ roll in all of its glory shouldn’t miss Above the Sweet Tea Line!
8 out of 10 stars.