Album Review: Prison Book Club – Required Reading

Here is a killer little album I have been diggin’ the hell out of lately. Prison Book Club are a West Virginia super group of sorts, comprised of John Miller from The Fox Hunt, Tucker Riggleman & Adam Meisterhans of The Demon Beat, and drummer Jeff Birdsall. Now you folks should be familiar with the unique brand of mountain music the Fox Hunt dishes out, but you may not be familar with The Demon Beat. The Demon Beat are a full steam ahead, damn the torpedos rock band who would not be out of place on a bill with Jon Spencer, The Black Keys, or The White Stripes to name a few. That is to say, while they are not really as blues centric as those bands, they have a fresh take on traditional rock with a healthy twist or two of punk thrown in. So what does it sound like when the two bands mix…well exactly what you think it might sound like, a rowdy rock band with lots of twang sounding like neither of the bands which make up it’s sum. Remember back in the early 90’s when punk and twang were being mixed together to create an exciting new sound we didn’t know what to call….that’s what Prison Book Club sounds like.
The easiest comparison I can make to Prison Book club however, is early Lucero. More specifically the first self titled Lucero album. Lots of twang, lots of guitar, lots of self reflecting whiskey soaked lyrics that just beg you to sing along. My favorite songs on this album are the ones sung by Fox Hunt’s John Miller which I think are the strongest. That’s not to say that Riggleman’s songs are bad, no they are good too, but this type of music better suites Miller’s vocal style is all. Prison Book Club is best when it combines the best of both bands, the singing and songwriting of Miller, and the thumping bass & passionate lead guitar of Riggleman & Meisterhan respectively. No song is this more evident than my favorite song on this album, the epic “When I Go”, which reminds me why I fell in love with this type of music in the first place.
This album is recommended for anyone who likes their twang served with a healthy portion of rock….or vice versa. Either way, this is the album you want to turn up to 11, rip the knob off (as Patterson Hood says), and pour a shot or 5 of the cheap stuff.
Prison Book Club are currently playing shows around their hometown of Shepherdstown, West Virginia and if your in the area you don’t want to miss what the band describes as PBR-mageddon.
Required Reading can be ordered straight from the band for a measly 8 bucks here. Also visit the Big Bullet Record’s site for more info of both Prison Book Club and The Demon Beat
Listen to Prison Book Club – Everything’s Fine
Listen to Prison Book Club – When I Go

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