Review: Knuckle Deep – Moonshine

Artist: Knuckle Deep
Album: Moonshine
Label: Independent

1. “Moonshine” – 3:49
2. “At Last”  – 5:22
3. “Never Coming Back” – 4:12
4. “Martha Focker” – 5:10
5. “Nails” – 4:02
6. “Stop the Train” – 4:00
7. “Left/Right” – 6:11

Moonshine is a symbol of the south. For any true southerner, they either know where to find it or make it themselves. The best southern rock bands that have existed have used it as a muse for their most iconic songs. In addition to that, writing/recording is a form of therapy and they can unleash any number of pent up emotions during these times. The wildest stories are also conceived while under the influence of moonshine. It’s only fitting then, that the rowdy boys in Knuckle Deep (Beaumont, TX) have created their ode to the beverage in their latest EP, Moonshine. The seven tracks that make up this album stand at the top of their long, tumultuous career. Even in the midst of recording, they had to deal with guitarist Bill Bloss’ house getting flooded out. As they’ve always done, though, they pulled through and are ready to show you what they’re made of.

The EP kicks off with the title track, a wild story concocted from the things that people experience at Village Creek. If you’re from Southeast Texas, you need no introduction to this iconic swimming/fishing hole. For years, people have made the long trek to the banks and camped, fished and swam but there are always hidden (and sometimes, not so much) dangers lurking. Whether it be the surroundings, wildlife, drunk people looking for a fight or (in this instance) individuals who aren’t happy you’re on their property. Vocalist Lee Pelly spins a yarn about an encounter with the barrel of a gun. Tables quickly turn and well.. you get the idea. The guitars on this track have a very southern driving sound, keeping a moderate pace and even have a tinge of twang to them. As the drums build, so does the climax of the story. While you don’t hear much of it on this track, backing vocals are provided by bassist, Ethan Meadows.

As with all of Knuckle Deep’s material, each track has its own sound to it. Pelly has never been shy about the things he writes but some of my favorite lyrics that he’s written are contained in emotional, ballad-like songs like “Mascara,” “Not Ready” and, for this album, “Never Coming Back.” These tracks detail situations that he has witnessed and felt compelled to write about, in an effort to give others hope. These songs usually feature more clean guitars (or sometimes, acoustic) and a more somber sound. “Never Coming Back,” is one of the first tracks I’ve heard that features an instrumental section that feels like active rock, more than a ballad. The lyrics tell the story of a mother who is determined to get her children away from a bad situation, with an alcoholic/abusive father. She packs her things and vows never to come back.

Of course, some of KD’s most iconic songs come in the form of songs like “Moonshine,” “Tiny Hands” and “Martha Focker.” The lyrics are usually written in a way, so as to have fun performing them and bring a smile to those listening. Profanity-laden, venom-fueled and layered thick with that southern humor, they usually stand out from the crowd. “Martha Focker,” for example feature Pelly’s higher vocal register and a fun group-chanted, “MOTHERF**KER.”

While there are plenty of fun surprises, both in terms of experimentation and just general great musicianship, none are more surprising than that of “Stop the Train.” Standing out from the rest of this album due to it’s gritty, grungy nature and one more big surprise. Listeners will quickly notice that Pelly is not on vocals for this one. Coming in heavy with his bass-line, Meadows takes center vocals, reminiscent of a lot of what you would hear on the radio in the mid nineties. This track has a much more melodic, airy feel to it as the instruments are given a bit more room to breathe. This is a very straight-forward track that, as odd as it may sound to say, still fits perfectly. Even as grungy as it sounds, it still has that grimy, southern edge to it, just a bit more laid back.

Knuckle Deep have never been out to impress anyone, themselves included. It should be no surprise, then, that this follows the same formula that each of their previous releases has. They don’t need a formula to create music that sounds good to them and, at the same time, gives their fans what they know they deserve. While Moonshine took awhile to release, the wait was wholly worth it. Crack open a cold one, crank it up and enjoy some of the best SETX has to offer. If you’re in the area, be sure to head out to Red’s Icehouse in Beaumont, TX for the CD release show. Tickets are going fast and come with either a physical CD or digital download card. If that’s not enough to get you going, you can actually go out and DRINK some moonshine (courtesy of Tim Smith Spirits and Climax Moonshine), while you listen to the album and watch the guys perform songs from the new EP!

“Never Coming Back” (Official Lyric Video)

“Moonshine” (Official Lyric Video)