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Nocona’s Los Dos

By Brian Rock

Nocona returns with their ironically named third album, Los Dos. This Los Angeles based band named after a small Texas town is a study in contradictions. Nocona has one foot firmly planted in traditional country music. Their other foot gyrates wildly between rock and folk and blues and psychedelia, stepping from genre to genre like John Cleese reporting for work at the Ministry of Silly Walks. The net musical effect is like a head on collision between Blackberry Smoke and The Velvet underground outside of a Grateful Dead concert.

Emphasizing their country roots, “Post Apocalyptic Blues,” is a steel guitar and piano driven Honky-Tonk Blues breakup song. A touch of harmonica adds to the Blues flavor as band leader Chris Isom sings, “Well tie my head to the railroad tracks, I don’t want nothing but you.” Although equating heartbreak to the end of the world, the barrelhouse piano helps lighten the mood. The band adds clinking beer bottles and smatterings of applause throughout to simulate a local dive bar, heightening the whole unabashed honky-tonk experience.

They address traditional country themes and styles in “Chasing Your Shadow,” “Never Come Back,” and “Ace In The Hole.” The first two are nebulous tales of troubled souls on the run from further trouble. Lively fiddle, steel guitar and acoustic guitar move the stories along at a trotting pace befitting extended chase scenes. The latter song is a weepy steel guitar infused ballad of someone who has given up on love.

“Tabernacle Woes” has plenty of bluegrass influence with fiddle and finger-picked acoustic guitar. But the addition of trippy feedback effects and opaque metaphoric lyrics gives the song an atmospheric, psychedelic feeling. “Unseen Hand” starts off as an Allman Brothers style blues tinged country rock song, but the middle bridge offers surprises as the electric guitar wanders off into cosmic territory once again.

The band turns to straight up rock and roll on “Chester.” Trying to make it through the daily grind, they sing, “Get a little older every day, but ya know that I ain’t dead yet.” The furious electric guitar and drums let you know that they’ve still got a lot of life left in them. “Too Much To Lose,” is a Black Crowes style southern rock anthem about being the wrong man for the right woman. “Free Throw” adds some Little Feat style southern funk to the mix as the band contemplates the hurry up and wait routine of life on the road.

Combining traditional fiddle and steel guitar with barrelhouse piano, funky organ, and psychedelic electric guitar creates a diversity of musical fusions with multiple layers that still rewards after multiple listens. It’s hard to pigeon hole Nocona to one or even “Los Dos” genres, but however you define them, they’re uniquely qualified to make their own unique brand of americana.

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Brian Rock

Brian Rock

Brian was raised gypsy style, moving every other year until well after college. As friendships proved to be temporary, Brian found a constant companion in music, wearing the grooves off Beatles and Dylan albums before moving on to Lyle Lovett and Dwight Yokam. Living so often in flux, he has come to value music and lyrics of lasting quality. Not moved by trends or fashion, he is drawn to timeless lyrics and soulful rhythms. Although now settled down, Brian still expresses his gypsy spirit through his writing. He has co-written songs with musician friends he’s met along the way, including several contributions to the 2012 ICMA Album of the Year, Family Album. Brian also writes children’s books and poems, including the Children’s Book Council featured title, The Deductive Detective.
Brian Rock

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