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Naturally you would expect Lake Worth, Florida’s The Smokeboss Militia to be a punk band as band leader Andy Mensing was previously the rhythm guitarist for riotous San Diego punks Rat City Riot, but his new group’s debut album Rise Again is a mix of everything from the blues to alternative country. The spirit and intense emotions of punk are still undeniably here though, and Rise Again is an impassioned exploration through the many faces of americana in music. Although the number of styles present here make it at times seem more like a loose collection of songs, the conviction of Messing’s presentation creates a unified continuity throughout.
The overall effect here is similar to the later albums by The Replacements and Paul Westerberg’s solo output where the ragged edges remain from their past, but they’re branching out into new territories. A song like the gentle soul-tinged “Crush” will be followed by the rollicking country of “Misunderstood.” There are even touches of Irish folk on some songs like “Danglin’”. Although they change styles as rapidly as Ween, the Smokeboss Militia is far more earnest, and ultimately everything here always perfectly suits the mood of each song. Mensing wears his heart on his sleeve with his lyrics, and Rise Again beautifully captures the number one punk necessity of authenticity.
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