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The Rubes : Hokum

On their debut CD, 'Hokum', U.S. band The Rubes thoughtfully provide us with the definition of the album title: "a device used (as by showmen) to evoke a desired audience response." If the desired response is "hell yeah!" then I'm down with that. You see, with the recent demise of prominent stoner-type bands like Atomic Bitchwax and Celestial Season, I've started to look around for strong up-and-comers rising through the ranks. Folks, we have a winner!

Like Swedish stoner/progsters Mammoth Volume and U.S. doomsters Witch Mountain (both of whom are thanked in the liners), The Rubes cultivate strength through diversity. Like they say on their website, its as if they're channeling the history of rock. But its clear that they like certain times better than others, namely the early and mid 70s and the late 90s. On 'Hokum' you'll hear some of the strongest, most soulful blues vocals ever. They remind me of nothing so much as Humble Pie ca. 1970, or any of the great bands of the blues boom of the late 60s/early 70s in either San Francisco or England. Brant also steps out with some mean guitar solo's, and Greg keeps the beat strong and steady.

But with The Rubes, it's really all about the songwriting. Yeah, the blues is strong, but there are enough 'Sabbathy underpinnings to keep any trad. Doomster happy. And the songs are all over the map while still maintaining a pleasing consistency. 'Snake Oil' has vocals not unlike Stevie Winwood-era Traffic, 'Wonder Why' is doomy with a great bluesy lead solo, '20 Three' has death metal growls(!) in the mix, 'Change My Mind' would not be out of place at a 70s arena concert, and 'Interlude' features some beautiful acoustic guitar and flute.

The Rubes bite off bits and chunks of our musical past and somehow make it all work. Sounds too diverse you say? Don't worry, this pill is coated with enough 'Sabbathy, bluesy goodness to make it go down easy. Open wide...

Reviewer's rating: Unrated


Tracklist :
1. Snake Oil
2. Wonder Why
3. 20 Three
4. Change my Mind
5. Smoke and Mirrors
6. Disguise
7. Take Your Time (Hiding in a Cloud)
8. To The Next Step
9. Interlude
10. The Ballad of Sisyphus MacDuff

Duration : Approx. 45 minutes.

Visit the The Rubes bandpage.

Reviewed on ??-??-???? by Kevin McHugh
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