The Legendary Hucklebucks
Hillbilly Death-Wrock Volume One
(Brain Drain Records)
Living, more or less, up to the potentially overblown self-description of "a freight train from hell," the band's latest release delivers a collection of songs which span country, psychobilly, heavy metal and good-old-fashioned rock 'n' roll. If that sounds like a lot, know that — 10 years in — the Hucklebucks have developed quite a talent for subtle genre-blending, even if that's just about the only subtle thing about them. The songwriting has a cohesive feel, and the individual tracks, though diverse, hang together. Fans of Reverend Horton Heat or Hank III or Danzig — or, weirdly enough, the Doors — will likely find something to enjoy here. It may not be a reinvention of the pompadour, but, dang, it's a lot of fun.
Are You Johnson?
(Pyrrhic Victory Recordings)
On this new record, Don Strange ventures out on his own without his band, the Doosh Bears. Strange moved to Pittsburgh in the early '00s to pursue a master's degree in creative writing, and his songs reflect that background. In its best moments ("The Day the Mutants Fell," "Don't Set Yourself on Fire"), the album mixes the frank narrative songwriting of The Mountain Goats' John Darnielle with the bratty humor of the Dead Milkmen. There are a couple weak spots —name-checking Morrissey and The Wire in the same line feels a bit labored — but generally, Strange hits a catchy indie-rock sweet spot.
DON STRANGE ALBUM RELEASE PARTY. 9 p.m. Fri., May 22. Cattivo, 146 44th Street, Lawrenceville. Free. 412-687-2157 or www.cattivopgh.com