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Michael Dean Damron: Contempt and Fury

Michael Dean Damron used to lead the booze-drenched, appropriately named roots-rock band I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch In The House. Time hasn't mellowed the guy or improved his worldview, but on Bad Days Ahead — his first album under the moniker Michael Dean Damron and Thee Loyal Bastards — he's learned that righteous indignation can be even more affecting when it's delivered with a whisper instead of a scream.

"Hallelujah" opens with the crack of a snare drum, conjuring images of a military funeral march. Essentially, that's what the track is: a chilling condemnation of a war and its aftermath, aimed directly at the provocateur and delivered with pitch-perfect dynamics that alternate between dispassionate contempt and heart-wrenching, agonizing fury. Damron's gruff voice becomes a bone-chilling howl during the choruses, in the process proving — particularly when combined with Heidi Hellbender's apocalyptic backing vocals — that the guys in the white hats can be scary, too.

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Barbara Mitchell
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