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Artist: Cross Canadian Ragweed
Label: Universal South
Length: 14 tracks (one hidden track)

I've had Cross Canadian Ragweed's new album _Garage_ for about a week or so now and I've been absolutely loving every note!

These 'boys from Oklahoma' really have come into their own on _Garage_. They sound confident and musically adept. Lead singer Cody Canada sounds more mature and ready to take on all the great stuff ... and the difficulties ... that life may throw his way.

Starting off the album is the poppy rock tune "Fightin' For." It's got a catchy hook and is ripe for continued airplay on rock radio. Let's hope they get some sense -- hey, DJ, put down that Nickelback CD and start playing some CCR! And I don't mean the chooglin', 'Suzy Q' CCR, I mean those dudes from the Sooner State who tear it up every time they get on stage or get in a studio.

For instance, check out track 3, it's called "Dimebag." Canada sings about 'Dimebag' Darrell Abbott, the former Pantera guitarist who was gunned down in the middle of performing a concert in Ohio with his band Damageplan. Against a steady, clean, rock backbeat, Canada sings:

"'Dimebag' Darrell, God bless that man, ripped from us by the devil's hand / only thing in his plan was love and rock 'n roll / Cowboy from hell, on a twisted trail, swept away where the wild winds wail, sad truth is you can never tell when it's your time to go."

And the guys mix it up even better than they did on 2004's tasty "Soul Gravy," with songs like the melancholy and folksy "Breakdown." This one will really hit you. Cody and the boys sound terrific here. 

And they get experimental on "When It All Goes Down" when they introduce a groovy sitar to the song, which has Canada asking some pretty heavy religious questions. Man!

And Canada reminds us how he loves his wife on "Final Curtain."

But then the boys ramp it up with the barnburnin' "Late Last Night" which must sound incredible live. I expect the same could be said about the rollicking number "Blues For You," written by Canada and Stoney LaRue Phillips.

And believe it or not, they recorded Bo Diddley's classic (also made famous by George Thorogood and the Destroyers) "Who Do You Love?" Sweet!

The more country elements pop up in songs like "SS #10," written by the entire band. Another more country-fied song is "This Time Around," co-written by Canada and Randy Rogers of the Randy Rogers Band. In fact, Rogers recorded this song for his recent studio album "RollerCoaster."

And then there's my favorite track: "Lighthouse Keeper." Canada joked that this creepy song could've been written by Ronnie James Dio. Lots of mystical imagery here, y'all. Pull out the lava lamp and hide in your basement for the night while cranking this one up!

The "last" song on the album (Surprise! There is a hidden track) is the acoustic "Bad Habit" with the chorus that goes: "And if it gives me cancer, if it gives me shakes, It's one of my habits, baby, I ain't gonna break / No surgeon general's gonna tell me what to do / My only bad habit, baby, comes with lovin' you." What a sensitive guy.

The album was produced by Ragweed and Mike McClure, a fellow Okie and former leader of the great Stillwater, Okla.-based band The Great Divide.

Knowing all that, go to your local record shoppe, Wally World or 'connection' and get a copy o' Cross Canadian Ragweed's _Garage_. And if you get a copy now, the one with the black cover, it comes with a swell DVD chock full o' videos, behind-the-scenes footage and more. It's well worth it!

Andrew West Griffin  10/23/05



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