Listening to the North Mississippi Allstars' debut album, Shake Hands with Shorty, in 2000 was like getting hit in the face with a giant blues paddle. I mean, where did that sound suddenly come from? The music was loud, aggressive, and up front, and the raw edge made it hard to not turn up the volume. This offering erased (sadly, only temporarily) the tepid sounds of genre pretty boys Jonny Lang and Kenny Wayne Shepherd. Shoot forward 13 years, and bandleaders and brothers Luther and Cody Dickinson have tempered that energy enough to perform with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra. But it's not that these boys from the fabled North Mississippi hill country, home to musical innovators R.L. Burnside, Junior Kimbrough, Mississippi Fred McDowell, and the Dickinsons' father, Jim, have changed that much — they've just adjusted the volume from 11 to 10 while continuing to shred the lines between electric blues and rock 'n' roll. Not unlike John Mayall's 1960s Eric Clapton-powered Blue Breakers, North Mississippi Allstars — including bassist Chris Chew — merely use the blues as a jumping-off point for mind- and sound-altering adventures. Just let there be no doubt, it will be gloriously loud!
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