Playing the sort of retro-flavored bar rock that generally comes from having an immaculate vintage record collection, Atlanta's 45's count acts like the Reigning Sound, Them Wranch, Cheater Slicks, and Compulsive Gamblers as kindred spirits. Like those acts, the 45's are dishing out the sound of pure rock & roll, without the color-coordinated pretentiousness that is currently suffocating the genre. Bryan Malone's slightly gruff, angry vocals are perfectly suited to this raucous style, though it is the brawling guitars that are the clear star of a 45's record. Drawing from everyone from the Zombies and Link Wray to the Sun Records catalog and the Sonics, the 45's have all the right moves, though the songs occasionally seem to get too wrapped up in solos and posturing to really carry the sort of gut-level emotional impact that groups like the Reigning Sound accomplish so effortlessly. Imagine Chuck Berry in a late-night showdown with the mop-topped pushers of the British Invasion and you're getting warm. Throw in a bit of Clear Channel-bred disillusionment regarding the grotesque state of modern rock and you're even warmer. Tracks like "My Kind of Girl" and "Hanging by a Thread" offer up the sort of frantic rock hooks that had parents up in arms against rock & roll in the '60s, and while this could easily turn into a soul-less nostalgia revue, it doesn't. The 45's avoid the traps of irony, and have enough passion to keep from sounding hollow. "The Devil Beats His Wife" and "Great Escape" sound surprisingly like the Supersuckers as Malone's vocals take an endearingly ragged Eddie Spaghetti-esque turn, perhaps indicating that the boys have actually heard a few records recorded after 1968. Sure to be embraced by fans of groups like Satan's Satellites, American Deathray, Compulsive Gamblers, and so on, the 45's offer a respectable brand of guitar rock from a genre that has long been underrated by both critics and fans. -AMG
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