The Impound is fully willing to admit when we’ve made a mistake. It’s one of many ways in which we differ from most politicians these days…but we digress. So, repeated spins and closer inspection in 2012 have revealed that we left a couple great albums off of our 20 Favorite Albums of 2011 list. One gem we failed to include was Rich Robinson’s excellent, personal solo effort Through A Crooked Sun, and the other is Clava, the latest offering from Chicago’s The Steepwater Band. While the boys already had a pretty stellar and remarkably consistent output in their preceding 13 years, Clava represents a group with all the fundamentals in place backed by grab-ya-by-the-ears (and other thangs) gutbucket playing that creates something so very rightly rock ‘n’ roll. The Steepwater guys pull off that marvelous move of taking all the stuff we already know about good rock and invigorating it in ways that make it pulse and caper as if it were young again.
Their new video emphasizes all these points and one other we’ve made for a long time about this band – The Steepwater Band looks just like an archetypal rock gang should. Scoff if you want about this last observation and then take a little trip through the mythology hiding behind your eyelids – Robert Plant strutting mic in flagranti, the battered, hairy toughness of Ronnie Van Zandt and the original Skynyrd lineup, the late millennial velvet charm of early Black Crowes, Janis swigging booze and lookin’ three sheets to the wind, and on and on and on. The visual and the musical are enthusiastic bedfellows in rock, and when they have chemistry – as they most certainly do with Steepwater – it’s just streetwise divine. The tune here is kick-ass too, and really if you’re just getting hip to this group you’ll do yourself a favor if you explore their full back catalogue. And if anyone has an “in” with the music director on Sons of Anarchy, this is THE perfect house band for the MC (and a wonderful tonic for the lackluster song choices on what is otherwise a fantastic sleaze melodrama feast). Put in a word for ’em, pretty please, so they get the big, boisterous fan base they so richly deserve as they continue to fight the good fight in the clubland trenches.