There’s always room for a good collaborative effort, and with their second joint venture, Put the Hammer Down, The Yayhoos are out to do a whole lot of sharing.
The notion here is that all the members contribute not only music and lyrics but also style and humor in a way that your average bar band would. Keep in mind your average bar band doesn’t usually include Dan Baird, Keith Christopher (both ex-Georgia Satellites), Eric Ambel (Steve Earle‘s Dukes) and Terry Anderson (The Fabulous Knobs).
With Ambel handling the production on the disc, the instrumentation takes center stage in many circumstances. “Where’s Your Boyfriend At?” kicks the album off with big-bottom bass and a heavy dose of classic blues rock. It doesn’t have much in the way of lyrical poetry, but the power-walking bass line makes for quite a hook in its own right.
That simplicity also is prevalent on the fantastic “Hurtin’ Thing,” featuring Ambel on vocals and piano. This tune is anchored by a solid plunking piano note that never veers into repetition. Instead, it lays down the foundation for the rest of the song to be a mid-tempo alternative on an album full of guitar rock.
Another element to this album — and the band, for that matter — is the rotation of vocals, whether it’s from one track to another or in the middle of a song like the ultra-catchy “Everything/Anything.” This song has a cheesy, borderline cheerleading theme, with the band members introducing themselves and a bragging a bit, but it works because it’s down right infectious.
Anderson’s strongest vocal and lyrical contribution to the album also is the high point. “Gettin’ Drunk” is a classic shout-along with the refrain “Gettin’ drunk/Gettin’ naked/Gettin laid/and gettin out.” It’s not a hard concept to grasp and makes for some big-time tongue-in-cheek fun.
And what would a real bar band experience be without a couple of covers thrown in for good measure. The first one, a version of The O’Jays classic “Love Train,” features all four guys trading vocal lines like a fired-up Traveling Wilburys. It’s a fitting and raucous version that fits in perfectly with the rest of the album. The second cover, a take on The B-52’s tune “Roam,” is a bit of a sleeper choice and almost unrecognizable until it hits the chorus. By that point, heads will start bobbing as the tune transforms itself from the original’s breezy alterna-pop into full-fledged Southern rock. Baird handles the lead vocals, and he shines in the role so much so that this could be a huge hit if placed in the right hands.
Put The Hammer Down proves to be a fitting title to an album full of hard-charging rhythms and catchy choruses. It’s sure to be the soundtrack of a few backyard cookouts and top-down car drives this summer and for more to come.
— By Mike Madden