History tells us that we should always be somewhat wary of supergroups. I am sure very few people would say that they preferred Velvet Revolver's Contraband to Appetite for Destruction by Guns N' Roses. Diamond Rugs seem like less of a supergroup than a group of contemporaries getting together to drink beer and play guitars away from the pressure of their main bands, which in this case includes members of some of American indie's brightest lights: Deer Tick, Dead Confederate, Black Lips, Los Lobos and Six Finger Satellite. These bands represent quite a pedigree of talent, if only for a fairly niche audience here in the UK.
For the most part, the album does pretty much what it says on the tin. Because there are at least three different and very capable singers on board here, in places the album seems almost like an open mic night in one of the rowdiest bars on earth. You get the raucous Replacements style booze soaked punk leanings of Hungover and Horny and Gimme A Beer rubbing shoulders with the more considered and well-mannered aping of Bruce Springsteen on tracks such as I Took Note and Call Girl Blues, which is startlingly similar to The Boss' own Tenth Avenue Freeze Out.
Elsewhere on the album, the artists step away from the genres they are usually known for with the skiffle of Hightail and the bizarre lo-fi crooning of Totally Lonely, which completely misfires and makes no sense in the middle of the album. These departures are not always weak, however, with some of them creating interesting new sounds. Take, for instance, the dirty Queens of the Stone Age groove and country crossover of Country Mile. The song is not a million miles away from Dead Confederate, yet it does not actually sound like any other band on the planet. Similarly, 100 Sheets (of which a demo was released last year by Dead Confederate) has had a strange country and western makeover which at first is sort of confusing, but actually works really well.
The album ends with the heart-breaking yet humorous piano ballad Christmas In A Chinese Restaurant, which is perhaps the greatest Christmas song ever written. Although the album stumbles in places, Diamond Rugs have enough shambolic charm to pull this off. Though it may never become a firm favourite of any of its members' respective fan bases, it is still a worthy addition to their collective back catalogue, and a fun curio and stop gap release while their main bands take a break.
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