Monday MP3s: Two from LL Cooper's Tucson

When it comes to salt-of-the-earth working-class roots-rock, groups (especially around Houston) don't come much more solid than LL Cooper, the semi-eponymous band led by Houston/Austin roots vet Larry Cooper. "For my money, very few acts sound better accompanying a round of Lone Stars in a smoky bar," the Press' Nicholas L. Hall wrote about Cooper's 2007 debut, Old Hardin Store Road. Although Cooper's lyrics can be pretty sobering, Rocks Off has to agree. (The band's cover of the Rolling Stones' "Rocks Off" is especially choice, and we're not just saying that because it's also the name of our blog.)

As LL Cooper prepares to release its second CD,


, Friday at the Continental Club, the band was kind enough to email us a couple of preview tracks. Reminiscent of the Bottle Rockets, Uncle Tupelo/Son Volt and Alejandro Escovedo, Cooper's not kidding around on lyrics like "When you're coughing up the blood/ And your lungs will start to flood." Read a few of Larry Cooper's thoughts on


after the jump. "Whereas the last record was about personal loss,


's recurring theme is how life is fleeting," he says.

"I'm proud of this record, and especially proud of my band. Everyone reached down a little deeper for this one, which is what the spirit of Tucson is about. The title track was inspired by the front door on the guest house belonging to my good friend Rich Hopkins, who lives out there. It's painted all funky, with the words "Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart." "Whereas the last record was about personal loss, Tucson's recurring theme is how life is fleeting. You know, time is short, so let's do this thing like we mean it. I now find it interesting that these songs were written while my wife and I were living the charmed life - newlyweds, fat and happy. But before the record was finished, the true idea behind Tucson was really tested. "My wife, Sheila, was diagnosed and treated for breast cancer. She's recovered and feeling much better, but you better believe, we treasure every day - we feel like we're playing with house money now. And my bandmates - it's been so cool to see several of them "getting off the fence" to be with that special someone. "Damn, it's like The Love Boat around here."

With Tody Castillo, 9 p.m. Friday, July 10, at the Continental Club, 3700 Main, 713-529-9899 or www.continentalclub.com/houston.html.

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