By Peter Karoly

I really have to listen more closely. Maybe it’s this fast paced world we live in today, but I seem to be distracted by too many things going on at the same time. Consequently, I hear one thing when something else entirely is being said. I come close to the meaning, but that can sometimes be dangerous.

With After The Dust, it was.

When I was handed the CD Bloodshot and Burning to listen and give my expert opinion regarding its merits (at least that’s what I heard them say), I thought they said it was like southern country. I’m not even sure what that might sound like and I still don’t because I didn’t hear it correctly. What they actually said was that it was like southern rock.

After a relaxing day educating today’s high school youth, I popped the CD in the car player and started home for what I anticipated to be a leisurely drive. While I expected to hear acoustic guitars and gentle lyrics, what I got was my hair parted down the middle and an extra 20 miles added to my speedometer. You can forget the southern part, too. There is a lot more of Jack Daniels to this bunch than Charlie Daniels and that’s fine by me.

For once, the title says it all. Bloodshot and Burning is just that, five cuts of scorching, red-hot chords and mind blurring lyrics. The Midland based band is made up of Drew Brady on lead vocals, Chris Crawford on lead guitar and backing vocals, Korey Gillespie on guitar, Travis Evans on bass, and Chad Winters of drums. This effort is the group’s second Extended Play release in addition to one ful- length album. The group has been together for six years and recently won the Phoenix Productions Battle of the Bands. I am not surprised. Bloodshot and Burning, which is available on iTunes, only contains five songs but, at my age, I’m not sure I could have sustained the intensity level for much longer. That’s me, not the band. They start out with all four burners going and then turn up the heat.

Forget the slick productions, the elaborate stage show, the glitzy electronics and flashy fireworks. You either got it or you don’t got it. After The Dust has got it and I get it. The band sounds like a lot of other bands I have heard but remains themselves somehow. Brady claims to be influenced by Guns ‘n’ Roses and that is evident in his vocal style. The other members have cut their teeth on Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, Blind Melon and Smashing Pumpkins. Throw in country and outlaw, 70s rock, and some tried and true standards, and you have the idea. It’s music that is original but still something I think I’ve heard before.

In fact, I’m listening to the last track, “Straight From The Skids” as I am trying to write this and it is taking me longer than usual. That’s because I catch myself not typing and just bobbing my head along with the music. Then, just when I am right in time, the song ends with a cold stop. No fade out for this group. Crank it out and end it cold. Leave me wanting more. The opening cut, “Trainwrecked," is what I now use to comb my hair while the other tracks are “Devil’s Advocate," and “Little Excuses." They are all sort of cut from the same cloth and, believe me, they wear it well.

The band members claim they don’t know what their name means but that it defines who they are. I saw it as most of a common phrase, “after the dust settles." They got the name right, though. At the rate they are going, it’s not going to settle any time soon.

© Peter Karoly, 2011