Let's get this one out of the way: On Thursday, the Drams didn't play a single Slobberbone song. In fact, during the group's first full-blown, 19-date national tour a few weeks ago, the three former Slobberbone members (along with Budapest One's songwriting duo of Keith Killoren and Chad Stockslager) didn't play anything from the Denton country-rock band's 12-year run, but concerts like Thursday's are proof that the Drams don't have to. Though still borrowing plenty from the Farrar-meets-Westerberg power of his former band, singer-guitarist Brent Best made a newfound love for late '70s Americana such as Bruce Springsteen evident in his new songs--though the back-to-back Big Star cover songs at set's end didn't hurt, either. Budapest's members are a fitting match for such an evolution in sound, and in particular, Stockslager's Rhodes playing and backing vocals sounded like they were fated to turn songs like "Humalong" and "Holy Moses" into memorable gems. But calling this band "Slobberpest One" is ill-fitting, particularly on mid-tempo heartbreaker "When You're Tired." "There's nothing left now to retrieve," Best sings in a song whose power comes not from its influences, but its source--it sounds like an awakening after the hangover of Slobberbone's passing, something even beyond the fusion of two of the region's best songwriting acts. Throw in a few surefire hits, including the insanely memorable "Shortsighted," and a stage show that has all the energy and excitement that Slobberbone lacked in its final months, and you're looking at an act that is far from a temporary lark. Before closing the show, Best announced that the Drams will start recording their debut album on January 2, 2006, at Denton's own Echo Lab. Good choice of date--if you guys play another set this good to a New Year's Eve crowd, you'll need the rest.
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