The Bludlows combine standard dissent with a sound that was pulled off smoother by other musicians, back in the day. If you’re looking for a good Americana album, you would be a lot better off going with The Old 97’s or any myriad of other bands like The Drive-By Truckers. You know who they are, because they’re good. And I’m not saying The Bludlows are terrible — but they’re not the best, and it would be shirking my duty to pretend otherwise.
Americaville, to me, reeks of trying too hard. The jangly guitars get to be too much, the gasping vocals are overdone, and the songs are overcooked. Beyond that, the whole album is everywhere. Maybe their goal was to produce something for everyone; but I’m a little over bands that seem to pull albums together, thinking the genre and only the genre will hold their disparate songs together.
To illustrate my point: “Americaville” and “False Allegiance” are rollicking, “Command Her Boogie” is swingy and leaning towards sultry, “ATG” is heavy, “Jesus Christ” and “Point of Reference” seem to aim to be experimental (but miss the mark), “Layin Down” is low, and “Blockade” and “You Don’t Know Me” are just jangly and typical like bad ’90s B-sides. I’m all for bands exploring their talents, but The Bludlows, who have noticeable skill to their names, have lost me.
Alt-country and Americana have some great new bands coming to their own right now — all of which add a youthful exuberance to style and talent. Unfortunately, The Bludlows, with their tired anthems, don’t seem to fit into the mix.