When the Black Crowes opened their highly anticipated 2005 reunion tour in Houston, they damn near got owned before lighting up their first incense stick by their openers, this powerhouse trio. Fronted by ex-Canadian/current Austinite Gordie Johnson, Grady plays a true synthesis of rock, blues and country — a glorious mess of searing guitar, big-bottomed bass and incessantly simple drum pounding. Johnson's description of "Motörhead backing John Lee Hooker" isn't far off the mark. Debut CD Y.U. So Shady? actually came pretty close to replicating their devastating live show, but the band — bassist "Big Ben" Richardson and new drummer Billy Maddox — goes in a slightly more ambitious direction on this spring's A Cup of Cold Poison. The songs are still full of sound and fury, but more expansive both musically and lyrically on the hard-hitting "Come and Take Me," "Rolling Thunder" and "Bad Old Days." Johnson gets all death-gloomy with superb condemned-man tale "On the Wagon," while "West Coast Hobo in a Boxcar Blues" sounds downright catchy. Surprisingly for a band based just up 290, Grady's Houston dates are pretty rare, so it's time to show them that Austin's Continental Club will just have to share.


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