For those not familiar, Rick Shaffer has been fuzzing up the airwaves for several years now, both as a solo artist and as founding member of the attic-rock outfit The Reds. His 4th solo record, Stacked Deck, continues in the tradition of scrappy no nonsense rock from the greasy bluesy confines of the garage and If you weren’t aware that this is a currently released album you’d swear it was recorded in the late 60’s,  it’s just that authentic in its delivery.  Shaffer loves his dirty blues-rock from the gutter and spares no expense at wearing it proudly on his sleeve. There is rarely a moment when I feel as though I am listening to some half-hearted throw back copy cat.

Songs like “Talking About You” are undeniably connected to The Rolling Stones at their bluesy best and even Shaffer’s voice carries that signature Jagger yelp and twitter.  One of the raunchiest and best cuts here is “Cool Treatment.”  

Borrowing from the nasty old John Lee Hooker one-note hook songwriting style, “Cool Treatment” is a deep resonating cut and quite clearly a song NOT to be fucked with.  “Pushing Me” is a rolling rocker with some truly thick guitar work and a jagged lyrical content that gets me to feeling guilty even having not done anything wrong.

For the most part the guitar is scuzzy and turned up past 10 and the percussion is minimal. In the forefront is Shaffer’s voice and guitar while the harmonica and tambourine keep a steady beat.

If this album were in human form it’d be a much tougher looking Scott Fargus from A Christmas Story, reeking of old booze and worn leather with much worse skin and heavily calloused knuckles from way too many punch-ups in the alley.

This is music that old rockers and tried and true punks would appreciate a lot.  It’s raw, and in your face, yet there is a familiar modern twist that creeps up every now and then, sending off scents of White Stripes, or more obscure acts like Sonny and the Sunsets.  But even so, those guys have always had a thing for the dirty garage and blues acts of old.

Blistering, uncompromising, and a super enjoyable trip through the land of old school rock landscapes, Stacked Deck is definitely stacked to the tits with groovy sounds.

 Nathan Pike • All What's Rock