Reviewed by Abby Johnston, Fri., Aug. 17, 2012
Whiskey ShiversRampa Head
Bluegrass indie quintet Whiskey Shivers sounds as if it just emerged from deep in the woods – barefoot, loud, and with little sense of propriety. Even with proper introduction, live or from the band's two CDs, you might think the same, only these locals are blazing a path through Downtown streets to the country-fried heart of Austin. Rampa Head, quick turnaround to 2011's Batholith, is a lightning-fast trip down dirt roads, opener "Way Downtown" a banjo-plucked cautionary anthem originally by Doc Watson concerning the trouble one can find in city centers. Whiskey Shivers has a lot to say about the freewheeling, trouble-free lifestyle. "Burden," "Head Up High," and "WTD" are all advice columns on how to succeed when the chips are stacked against you, and the idea that a happy life can be preserved in a simpler state. Despite a propensity to operate at 1,000 hoofbeats an hour, the boys slow down for tears and beer on "Darlin'" with a lovely, fiddle-led weep from lead singer Bobby Fitzgerald. "D-Tune" begins as a walking-beat folk jam, but speeds off count into a shouting, raucous, cocaine and whiskey frenzy. While Rampa Head lacks the clear memorable track Batholith had in "Gimme All Your Lovin'," the album is, over all, more comfortable than the debut. Whiskey Shivers are knocking the dust off bluegrass.