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ALBUM REVIEW: "Holding Court"


The Cash Box Kings

"Holding Court"

Blind Pig Records

The word "retro" is an unfair pigeon hole and strikes more as an accusation or back-handed compliment. It also limits the contributions of artists that fill the gap between today and yesteryear. Let's just call it "classic," whaddaya say? With its new Blind Pig pleasure platter, "Holding Court," The Cash Box Kings are on the top of this classic upper echelon. The band blows hot and cool post-war, Chess-era blues that comes on now and vintage in the same breath.

Joe Nosek's thick and juicy harp wails hearty throughout as he shares vocals with the band's 6-foot-3, 300 pounds of joy, Oscar Wilson. "Classic" actually applies to the overall instrumentation's understatement and tone on "Holding Court" as it has that big, beautiful over-driven analog crispness that sounds as if it was hammered out in little smoky room with a couple of ribbon mics. CBK salutes its influences like Jimmy Rogers and John Lee Hooker while at the same time tackling subjects like downloading music ("Download Blues") and urban gentrification ("Out to the Suburbs"). And regardless of the topic, there are plenty of tunes — 13 to be exact — for you to grab that special someone and cut yourself a slice of rug. One of the best blues recordings I've heard in a long, long time.