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Two Dollar Pistols
Released: May 18, 2004
Yep Roc Records
3.9 out of 5 Stars
I recently sat down with the latest Two Dollar Pistols release Hands Up!, and I could almost smell the horses, leather and smoke as I relaxed with the headphones on a lazy Saturday morning. Hands Up! Is the third full-length release by the latest incarnation of songwriter John Howie Jr.’s band that have also released an acclaimed EP with Tift Merrit simply titled The Two Dollar Pistols With Tift Merritt.
The Two Dollar Pistols sound best when they keep it traditional. Luckily, they have done mostly that with this collection of songs. A few tracks are a bit overproduced and honestly sound eerily like a resurrected Hootie & The Blowfish.
Namely, tracks #1 “To Bad That You’re Gone”, #5 “Hands Up!” and #10 “Like You Did”. I really hate to even use the “H” word in this review, because I know it can scare a whole lot of people off, but the rest of the album’s 8 tracks are near perfection.
I am not sure why there’s such a division in the sound of the above-mentioned songs and the rest of the album. It might simply be an attempt to reach past Country and Americana boundaries into a wider market, or maybe we all have some evil, repressed Hootie memories that can surface at anytime. Either way, maybe these “pop” tracks can help bring some folks into the Americana fold. Personally, I’ll skip these three songs every time.
The album was recorded at The Kudzu Ranch Studio in North Carolina and was produced by Brian Paulson who has also worked with some big names such as Wilco, The Jayhawks and Son Volt. Most of the album has strong and direct branches, which are grafted directly onto some Country music’s healthiest roots. Twangy guitars, tasteful steel pedal, tight rhythm section, drawled harmony and lyrics that are 100% about love lost and loneliness make “Hands Up!” an album worth having in your collection. In fact, if a woman has done you wrong, you can climb into a beer with this album and revel in the pain.