Of all the newer bands I have run across here at GRITZ over the past five years, none have burned their music into my brain any stronger than The Fiddleworms. This Muscle Shoals, Alabama rock band embraces all of their influences, from the legendary Shoals “Swampers” to Eddie Hinton, from The Allman Brothers to The Grateful Dead, and it makes for a sound that is at once familiar, yet totally original.
On their latest release Volkswagen Catfish, the band sounds fresher and better than ever before, from the straight up Southern Rock opener “428” to the reggae laced “Heartbreak Escapade.” I absolutely love the country pop of “Easy Girl” and “Crows” just plain rocks.
There are elements of jam band flavor, but with a lot of intelligence behind the jams. No mindless noodling on the fret board here, kids. With the title track, we are treated to nearly ten minutes of stellar, rocking jamming, with each musician having his day in the sun as it were. Amazing slide guitar, sick B-3 runs, it’s all good.
“When The Axe Fell” is Black Crowes all the way, and “Sympathize” is laid back seventies acoustic pop at its best (and one of my personal favorites). There is zero lack of diversity in The Fiddleworms.
The album was recorded at The Nutthouse Recording Studio in Sheffield, Alabama, and produced by Jimmy Nutt, the major talent who engineered Jason Isbell’s album, Sirens of the Ditch. He also worked beside David Barbe on The Drive By Truckers record The Dirty South.
The record closes with “Strutting Duck,” another Fiddleworms instrumental workout filled with funk and Muscle Shoals soul. I just have to be quite honest here and tell you, this is one of the finest albums I have heard in a while. It is just packed with great music that makes you want to dance, or at least tap your toes while you groove on the superior talent of the band - Russell Mefford, guitar and vocals; Rob Malone, Guitar and vocals; Clint Bailey, keyboards and vocals; David MacKay, bass (and husband of former Grateful Dead member Donna Jean!); and Daniel Ledford on drums.
A great record from one of the best bands to come out of the South in years. Don't miss out - dig you some Fiddleworms. I sure do.
-Michael Buffalo Smith