According to The Lost Weekend Band’s history, the band came together after a man calling himself “Hardcore Dave” had a change of heart. As his name more than implies, Dave began his musical career fronting punk bands. He played at the legendary CBGB’s; he supported the hardcore legends Agnostic Front. …But he then took a liking to the sounds of outlaw country, and his career took off in a different direction.

The Lost Weekend Band’s 2024 EP ‘One Hell of A Time’ is actually quite far removed from the kind of sounds that a musical marriage between an ex-punk and country music might suggest. You won’t find anything here that’s been inspired by the noisier end of Uncle Tupelo (‘Graveyard Shift’, ‘Postcard’), even though that certainly would’ve suited a band such as this. Instead, the LWB bring together a raw mix of honky tonk, southern rock and old style R&B, which creates a very retro listen on its own terms, and when the band really hit their stride, they certainly aren’t short of a big riff or three.

One of the EP’s instant standouts, ‘Madison County’ blends huge guitar sounds and a retro organ during its intro to share something that sounds vaguely as if the band have used Dylan’s ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ as a springboard for their new jam. From there, the track takes on a little more of its own identity, and armed with a mid tempo rhythm, the guitars lay down a meaty chug throughout, whilst a broad country rock melody gradually grows to include a huge, rousing hook and roaring lead break. Above everything, though, the listeners’ ears will be constantly drawn to Dave’s country rock drawl and storytelling as he leads this strong melody through a tale full of downbeat characters, an incident with a broken down truck, and a home town marriage that never works out for the best.

If you’re looking for another well rounded snapshot of The Lost Weekend Band’s crossover sound, but perhaps something a little rockier, ‘Pay The Rent’ plays like a massive Molly Hatchet tribute. The chunky mid tempo rhythm guitars are spawned from the finest southern rock of the late 70s, and the prominent slide guitar that cuts through the melody brings an extra dose of attitude. With its strident rhythm and a chorus melody that leans vaguely upon a couple of the Stones’ rootsier affairs, this is immediately great roots rock even before taking Hardcore Dave’s chosen vocal into consideration. His delivery is never subtle, but his tone owes a debt to the likes of Jimmy Farrar that cannot be underpaid. With a great riff and the sound of a band having the best time playing in the moment, these three minutes are about as good as it gets.

It’s not that the remaining material falls drastically short, but the remaining three tracks are a little less instant. This actually turns out to be a good thing in itself, since the extra work required on behalf of the listener means that the extra time spent with The Lost Weekend Band uncovers an EP that’s actually a lot better than first impressions might’ve suggested. Showing the softer side of the musicians’ combined talents, ‘Sing With Me’ offers a countrified soul number that would occasionally sound like a Black Crowes deep cut – circa ‘Amorica’ – if it weren’t for the fact that Dave’s affected performance occasionally sounds like someone channelling Nick Cave on karaoke night in Talahassee. If you can overlook that, the music is fab – especially Carl Byron’s electric piano, which increases the superbly retro feel throughout, and Eliot Lorango’s bass which gives the arrangement a genuine warmth that The Lost Weekend Band rarely possess on their rockier tunes.

Less country, more rhythm ‘n’ blues with a massive twang, ‘Sunlight’ sounds like the bastard child of Foghat and ‘Ma Kelly’s Greasy Spoon’ era Quo. Loaded with a drawling vocal and a dirty guitar solo, the band hammers their way through a twelve bar boogie with intent. Parker Richey’s lead guitar, in particular, is very smart, and the way he weaves semi-aggressive notes in and out of the song’s keyboard work – centring around a solid R&B piano, shared with a massive clankiness – gives the track a massive heart. The no-frills approach to the music means that Mr. Dave increases his volume to suit and occasionally sounds a little silly, but that never spoils an otherwise solid tune. Showing off yet another side of the band, ‘In The Morning’ works some intricate acoustic guitar and a great harmonica, and – perhaps best of all – a very sedate side to Hardcore Dave’s vocal. Although he often favours a gruffness, this track shows how brilliantly he can handle a countrified croon. When pitched against a slow, waltzing rhythm augmented by a subtle pedal steel and mandolin, he sounds very natural. Bringing in Joey Ponchetti’s drums at the eleventh hour for a little extra beef, this number builds to a suitably cinematic climax, and as the last notes fade, everything has felt so smooth, it’s easy to forgive any unnecessary raggedness the band may have shown off elsewhere.

The vocals aren’t always perfect – hell, Hardcore Dave’s chosen tones might be one some of the least subtle sounds on the fringes of country music, ever – but the band’s grubby riffs and shamelessly old school approach to an arrangement wins out, more often than not. ‘Pay The Rent’ and ‘Madison County’ make ‘One Hell of A Time’ more than worth checking out, but those looking for a more countrified Molly Hatchet, or maybe a spit ‘n’ sawdust take on The Marshall Tucker Band could well find something of even greater interest here.

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April 2024