Taylor Hollingsworth

Out of Birmingham, Alabama, comes this Southern-fried greasy punk, all snarling lips and attitude, equal parts Axl Rose and Keith Richards with a fashion sense copped from Bowie to boot. Hollingsworth's second effort ups the ante considerably over last year's Shoot Me, Shoot Me, Heaven, presenting a charmingly ramshackle loser aiming for respectability but consistently--and thankfully--failing. Featuring backing vocals from Francine Reed (Lyle Lovett's Large Band), Hollingsworth incorporates classic themes of dissolution into his heady and sweaty mix of punky soul and proletarian rhythm and blues. Tragic City is a ride through a dilapidated hillbilly funhouse full of freaks, jilted lovers and stale beer, a place Hollingsworth obviously knows very well. "How come you're always fucking around/Your lips are on fire, your wallet's burned out," he sings on "Take the Money," with both scorn for his partner and a recognition of his own similar failings. "Duct Taped Heart" and "How Could You Be So Cold" channels iconic influences such as J. Mascis and Johnny Thunders into a swirling Exile on Main Street tribute that doesn't let up until the listener finishes the disc, converted and appreciatively bruised.

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