In 2003, these real-life brothers from the Hill Country of Bandera, Noel (vocals, guitar) and Hollin (vocals, bass), released their self-titled debut. A superb effort, it boasted memorable, impressive songs filled with wistfulness, humor, party-fueled joy and even the occasional Spanish number sung with surprisingly convincing ease for a gringo. That's why it's perplexing that this follow-up effort would fall so short of those lofty original sights -- especially with the usually dependable Lloyd Maines in the producer's chair (taking over for that other Texas producer of choice, Gurf Morlix). It's almost as if many tracks from the first record were fresh drafts from the keg -- and these have been sitting on the bar for an hour. "Port Artr," "Spirit Bird" and "Bottle of Fire" take familiar themes nowhere, and somewhat generic music infiltrates the record. Even the comical "Silicone Baby" goes for too-obvious humor in the tale of a workingman who buys his woman big titties. There are a handful of worthy efforts: the bar-life travelogue "Lock and Key," the Spanish-language "Acompaeme" and the anti-land development number "The Disappearing Texas." Still, it's clear that overall this sophomore effort just doesn't have the same sparkle and quality as the first. The McKays have obvious talent, and they're capable of bigger things than Cold Beer & Hot Tamales. Get a copy of McKay Brothers and find out why.
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The McKay Brothers perform Saturday, November 25, at Goode's Armadillo Palace, 5015 Kirby, 713-526-9700.