GA-20: Crackdown Review

I was lucky enough to be the ears behind Blues Rock Review’s appraisal of GA-20’s previous album, Try It…You Might Like It!. Serving up a fitting tribute to one of Chicago’s most beloved blues players Hound Dog Taylor, it proved to be a good-time introduction to their brash and dirty blues sound. Fast forward a year, this three-piece, high-energy blues combo has returned to penning their own material on third LP Crackdown.

Very much at the venomous end of the traditional blues revival, the band creates their own brand of unpolished, rickety blues, taking you from the Deep South to the Mississippi Delta and everywhere in between. While GA-20 are undoubtedly a throwback to their mutual love of heavy traditional blues, they still manage to sound refreshingly modern.

Opener “Fairweather Friend” stands up to the vintage recording elements with its garage rock feel, while “Dry Run” is soulful, swampy, and sultry. “Easy On The Eyes” is also very easy on the ears, with its growling guitar riff truly intoxicating. Ironic given it was born during a drunken late-night jam after a show in Atlanta.

“Be My Lonesome” transports you back to the early rock ‘n’ roll era of the 1950s. Explosive, rough, and rowdy, the twin guitar attack from guitar slinger Matthew Stubbs and singer/guitarist Pat Faherty wouldn’t be out of place on a Chuck Berry record.

Wherever you turn, there’s a barrage of punk brevity and boogie-laden noise, but it’s smoldering instrumental “Crackdown” and the 12-bar blues of “Gone For Good” that turn GA-20 up to 50. The latter is tried and tasty pickings for fans of a “typical blues song structure” – easily my favorite guitar work on the album.

The freestyle title track sounds like an improvised blues jam with each member showing off their chops – drummer Tim Carman, in particular, keeps things simmering behind the sweat and swagger of their authentic, old-school blues.

Nobody out there sounds like GA-20. If you haven’t listened to them, it might be time to start cracking down.

The Review: 8/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– Crackdown
– Be My Lonesome
– Gone For Good

The Big Hit

– Gone For Good

Buy the album: Amazon

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