Of the million-odd discs I’ve received in the last couple weeks, no group has the faded-glory, retro-cool aesthetic down like the Evening Rig. This is weird, considering that this Minneapolis group’s brand of throwback rock is more Replacements than Springsteen (the current generation’s It messiah of the moment).
If you’ll remember — and I’m sure I’ll get a lot of “gruff” for this — the Land of 10,000 Lakes housed a lot of college radio faves back in the late ’80s, yet none of them were too keen in the art department. (Save for the ’Mats’ “Don’t Tell a Soul,” of course. Love that one.)
But, as some unwise people have said throughout my lifetime, you’re never supposed to judge anything by its cover, so I’ll get off that tangent and onto why all the praise-worthy artwork was created in the first place: the Evening Rig’s music.
Which is awesome.
Not only do these cool kids match Paul Westerberg, Chris Mars and the Stinson brothers’ early whiskey-soaked intensity, but they also have a soft spot for that legendary foursome’s post-Twin/Tone radio-ready gems.
This, too, is awesome.
So, heading into this fancy new Evening Rig disc — which, while I was a fan of “Never Been’er,” finds the group ready to take on the world — you’re treated to heatwave blockbusters (“The Hilltop Pines,” “How Does She Do It?”), dirt-road driving music (“A Girl Important,” “In Spite of All That Happened”) and more than a few songs dedicated to drinking (most notably “Goddamn, I Need a Drink”).
Another amazing thing about this disc is that it has a sly pop sheen not heard since Westerberg ventured out on his own in the early ’90s — you know, when groups like the Gin Blossoms were dominating the airwaves. (Pretty much everything I said in my review of “Sweet Precious Time” by Ben Durbin’s Modern Antiques can be applied here.)
In other words, get this one now.
“Is Doin’ Stuff” is available now from Heart of a Champion. Get a free download of “The Hilltop Pines” at www.switchbladecomb.com/mp3/the-evening-rig-the-hilltop-pines.