Dead Rock West

Dead Rock West finds the jagged edge of country rock.

Honey and Salt reaches for the jagged edge of country rock that brought such acclaim to Los Angeles legends X in the '80s. A collaboration between West Coast veterans Frankie Lee Drennen and Cindy Wasserman, Dead Rock West 'fesses up to the similarities between the two bands' sounds by covering X's anthem "Burning House of Love" with mosh-pit abandon; there is also the undeniable vocal similarities between Wasserman and X's Exene Cervenka, and time and again on tracks such as "On the Outside" and "Pretty Disaster," those familiar with X will be thinking of the purple-bruise harmonies of Cervenka and John Doe.

Dead Rock West is at its best on rockers like "Telephone" and "I Really Wanted You" and dramatic alt-country numbers like "Highway One." It's at its worst on clichd country, like "Boredom (How Did I Get Here)" and "Going Home." They ought to leave the countrified material to George Jones and the sweeter stuff to James Taylor and stick to their strengths. While the band doesn't break any sonic or stylistic ground with Richard Dodd (Tom Petty, Steve Earle, George Harrison) mixing, most of the tracks have that big, wide-screen muscle you want in a crowded, sweaty bar or on the radio during a long road trip. And did I mention that killer X cover?

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