Fred's Country Fried Rock: Powder Mill, “The Devil in New Orleans” (2011)

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There are actually two versions of this number from Missouri-based Southern rockers Powder Mill. The first, “The Devil and New Orleans,” an acoustic country number, appeared on the band’s 2008 album New Mountain. “The Devil in New Orleans” rocks things up a bit and appeared on the Southern Independent, Vol. 2 collection in 2011.

I’m not sure if the name on Southern Independent is a typo or if it’s intentional, because they are two very different songs, but both are effective in their own way.

The tune follows in a great tradition of storytelling songs, offering up a heart-rending story of a family that fled New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and ended up in Memphis, where things didn’t get any better for them. The acoustic version puts the hopelessness and despair of the story on full display. The electric version puts a Southern rock groove behind it and gives it an angry edge.

In the acoustic version when he’s traveling back to New Orleans from Memphis, it’s with resignation, “I’m going down to New Orleans, and I ain’t never coming back.” In the electric version, he’s “going down to New Orleans, and I’m gonna kick that devil’s ass.”

If you know me, it’s no secret which one I prefer.

The rocking version from Southern Independent is grittier, grimier and gutsier. Singer Jesse Hammock II puts a little more snarl in his vocals for it, and I usually find anger preferable to despair. It’s got great grooves, big hooks and a fantastic guitar solo — it’s not often you find yourself humming a solo.

Of course, if you’re squeamish about language and themes, you might want to stick with the original. Or you might just prefer the sadness of it, as it’s certainly just as effective. Either way you go, you can’t lose.

Powder Mill has three albums available — New Mountain (2008), Do Not Go Gently (2009) and Money, Marbles and Chalk (2010) — with a fourth on the way in 2012.

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Fred Phillips

Fred Phillips

Fred Phillips is a veteran entertainment writer with a love of hard rock and heavy metal. He has written music reviews, columns and feature stories for several newspapers, Web sites and a national wire service, while running a stand-alone site called Hall of the Mountain King in various places and incarnations since 1997. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelse reviews.com.
Fred Phillips

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