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Friday, October 3, 2008

CD Review: Hot Buttered Rum - Live In The Northeast

Hot Buttered Rum - Live In The Northeast
2007, Hot Buttered Rum

Hot Buttered Rum is the virtual progeny of a long line of great San Francisco bands. A rock band playing bluegrass instruments, Hot Buttered Rum bring an energy and an egalitarian creative process to their music that is unmatched in music today. An extremely activist bunch, Hot Buttered Rum don't separate their social causes and concerns from their music, often volunteering their off time on the road to progressive and social causes. In 2007, Hot Buttered Rum released a live album, Live In The Northeast. It is an aural document of the sound, energy and vibrant musicality they purvey.

Live In The Northeast opens with Busted In Utah, an humorous tune about a constabulary run-in that has an air of autobiography to it. Desert Rat has a strong Celtic feel to it and actually sounds like vintage Spirit Of The West. Return Someday has a southwest feel to it and carries a strong environmental message. Make sure you check out Metrosexual, which is probably the most overtly hilarious song on the album. If you have the impression that Hot Buttered Rum is a comedy or novelty act then you are incredibly mistaken. This is a serious band of serious musicians and songwriters who find leeway to not take themselves too seriously all the time.

My personal favorite is Summertime Gal, a song destined to be on thousands of mix tapes. Other highlights include the frenetic Spider, the meticulously sweet Honey Be and You Make Me Feel Like Dancing (Leo Sayer cover). Hot Buttered Rum is something special. All five members contribute through songwriting and vocals. They spend a significant amount of time trying to make the world a better place on top of progressing their music careers. This is the sort of band to aspire to be, both musically and socially.

Live In The Northeast is a live snapshot of a band with something special. The energy and vitality throughout the recording are difficult to match. The songs are sublimely written and performed, and you finish up wanting to find out when Hot Buttered Rum will be in the area again. The band itself shows significant promise of a long career, doing for Bluegrass what bands like Great Big Sea have done for Celtic music. Hot Buttered Rum may bring bluegrass back into the mainstream for country and has the potential to cross over into the pop/rock realm as well. What is certain is that their live shows are destined to become things of legend. For now, Live In The Northeast is an ideal introduction to this exciting young band.

Rating: 4.5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Hot Buttered Rum at, where you can purchase a copy of Live In The Northeast as well as their other recordings, Live at the Freight and Salvage and Campfire Singalong. Hot Buttered Rum also has two free downloads available on their website that have political or social connotations. Reckless Tex is a musical diatribe against President George Bush that was written in the run-up to the 2004 Presidential Elections. Guns Or Butter is the age old consideration of whether to go to war for little knowable purpose or to take care of our own people. Regardless of whether you agree with the collective opinions of Hot Buttered Rum, you will certainly find them provocative.

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