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Album Review

THE TALES
Of Love and Methadone

One would expect an album titled Of Love and Methadone to be a little demented and The Tales (or rather, Russ Miller who is in fact The Tales) does not disappoint. Straight out, we are hit with a one-minute twenty-second a cappella drone worthy of the beginning of one of Hollywood's latest movies only to be swamp-rocked right after with the semi-acoustic backwoods blues rock of something titled Bullroar, hick-infested voice dripping sinister. This is supposed to be Southern, but this ain't your typical Lynyrd Skynyrd or Winter Brothers Band. This crosses lines most Southern rock bands can't even find, those lines more the property of edgy genre-crossers like Eric Sardinas and maybe the lighter but just as impressive Don Chambers & Goat.

Truth is, Miller rides a fine line between the demented and melodic. Methadone Sunrise is that kind of ride, a musical interpretation of early morning, voices Southern but guitars layered just right for that I-need-to-watch-the sun-rise-more-often feeling. You get a bit of that in Sunset Blue as well, that slow rock-you-to-sleep tempo with odd but apt vocals over layered and floating guitar. The guitar on the bridge is very impressive, indeed, reverb and tone combining for an all too short but worthy of note high. Every time I hear it I think, damn! Tasty!

The core of Miller's music is rock and blues (I'm stating the obvious here), but he has the chops and threads different genres throughout--- psych, space, swamp and a handful of others--- and those threads set Miller apart. Track to track and even measure to measure, he takes you through and around what you expect. Even the obvious sounds new. A prime example is You Bring Me (Down Part II), a Ted Nugent Stranglehold-like lead-in to a strange early-60s vocal group stretch and, not surprisingly, back to Nugent-style double lead and the build to demented wind-down voice and finale. Like I said before. Damn!

Of Love and Methadone lies in a netherworld between some of the best late seventies hard rock, Southern rock and, thanks to some incredibly spirited but controlled guitar, psych on most tracks, but that's just my ear talking. It tells me I have been starved for double leads the like of, say, Wishbone Ash, and just good ol' rock music on the edge. It tells me Of Love and Methadone scratches an itch. Bottom line: It sounds good and it feels good.

Ladies and Gentlemen, The Tales have left the building. Do yourself a favor and follow them. Here's the door.

Frank O. Gutch Jr.

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