Missed Music

Music you didn’t know you needed…until now.

Ripping old school rock from Podunk

I owe a lot of my love of music to my brother, Gary. I am almost 3 years younger than him so growing up I listened to whatever he thought was cool. Early on, that was Kiss (hey, those first few albums were great). He turned me onto Queen (thanks, bro), Red Hot Chili Peppers (in 1987), and Lenny Kravitz (so I saw him touring on “Let Love Rule”). Gary taught me to sing harmony to ‘Nowhere Man’ by The Beatles when I was 9. When I was 10, my brother was given his first guitar from a stranger at my aunt’s church who said God told him to buy Gary a guitar. He went on to become a career musician and lives in Texas now.

Since he moved down there, our musical tastes have diverged somewhat. Gary has played in a wide variety of styles but being in Texas, one gets immersed country and southern rock. He likes that stuff a little more than I do. I love hip-hop. Gary not so much. Still, living near Austin, where every barista, carpenter, and cubicle denizen has a night job with a band, he hears all kinds of great music in many styles and still passes stuff along to me. Bob Schneider of Ugly Americans is one of my faves that Gary turned me onto. Soulhat, whom I have not yet written up but will, is another. Gary has a great natural ear that he has honed through years of performing, writing, and producing so when he sends me something, I slap on the headphones and check it out.

He'll be out in a minute.

For my birthday this year, Gary sent me “Podunk,” the 2002 release by Podunk. I had never heard of these guys before, though this is their 4th album. I was a little scared, since I felt a band named Podunk from Texas has a high potential to suck. They are not what I was expecting. Podunk plays old school rock ‘n roll influenced by AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, King’s X, and Bad Company. The guitar work isn’t virtuoso, but totally solid. The bass and drums don’t break new ground, but lay down bedrock for the band. The songwriting is excellent and that’s more than half the battle right there. What really jumped off the disc at me was the vocals.

Lead singer/guitarist Jason Touchette has a flat out amazing voice. Incredible. I compared Podunk to Bad Company and Touchette is why. Throughout the disc, he constantly reminded me of Paul Rodgers. That is high praise indeed, because I think Rodgers has one of the best voices ever in rock ‘n roll. Touchette has great range, can sing sweetly and screech with equal facility, and throws vibrato at any note at will. He also picks interesting vocal lines to accompany the instruments.

I ripped these 5 tracks from the 11-track release.

  • Creeper – Power chords and ripping riffs from the guitar are driven by the pounding percussion. Touchette wails this one with heart.
  • Closer to Free – The verses are cool, but the big fat harmonies in the chorus are undeniably appealing.
  • By Yourself – This is kind of a standard hard pop song, but the production manages to capture great energy in the studio and again, Touchette has some shining moments in this one.
  • Damn Good Day – I am reminded of Screaming Trees by the guitar riff in this one. “Everything is beautiful. It’s a damn good day to die.” Hmm.
  • Mockingbird – This track makes me think of Chris Cornell (probably THE best voice ever in rock ‘n roll) and features some of the best guitar work on this disc.

It is unclear to me whether the band is still active. This 2002 release was their last album. Their website, www.podunkrocks.com is defunct, but their MySpace page is active. The last login was in November, but I can’t find a new update. Anyway, they have 3 other releases I get to go back and dig up. Woo hoo.

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December 3, 2009 - Posted by | Hard Rock, Popular, Rock

1 Comment »

  1. You nailed it. Paul Rodgers with a little Lou Gramm from Foreigner thrown in for good measure. I bought this CD from Jason himself after they opened for Tesla in Columbus, Ohio circa 2003. You are correct: nothing ground-breaking here, but just good ol’ Rock n Roll, which is refreshing sometimes. No posing. No gimmick. Just a bunch of Texas boys getting down. What struck me, other than their strong stage presence was Jason’s totally humility – especially for a band that had a few CDs out already. He was very appreciative for the purchase and more than thankful for the praise I was heaping on him and his band. The disc is strong top to bottom and I sadly have not purchased any of their other stuff. Might have to do just that…

    Comment by Tim | March 19, 2010 | Reply


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