Deer Tick ringleader John McCauley doesn't know what to do with himself if he isn't making music. In fact, besides his main band and the folky trio Middle Brother, his résumé now boasts the ragged supergroup Diamond Rugs. The motley crew — which features members of the Black Lips, Los Lobos, Dead Confederate, and Deer Tick — coalesced during the fall of 2011 in Nashville to record their homonymous debut. To call the album loose is an understatement: bar-band signifiers such as wobbly harmonica, jagged guitar solos, and cry-in-your-beer laments abound. In fact, Diamond Rugs sounds like the first studio session of a classic-rock cover band fond of the Rolling Stones, the Charlie Daniels Band, Tom Petty, and Bob Seger. Raunchy heel-stompers (horn-burnished highlight "Gimme a Beer," early rock-and-roll rave-up "Hungover and Horny," lo-fi garage stab "Big God") alternate with slow-burning drawls (psych-rock drone "Motherland," Sabbath-heavy guitar freakout "Country Mile," the drunken blues honky-tonk "Call Girl Blues"). Despite the raucous vibe, Diamond Rugs is flawed — scattered, unfocused, and rather long, at 14 tracks. But the album ends on a high note with "Christmas in a Chinese Restaurant," a stripped-down piano composition which describes the most painful holiday ever — as narrated by a lonely sad-sack who's been kicked out of his house.
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