Something Else! sneak peek: The Bootleggers, “Hard Luck” (2014)

The impulse, of course, is to come in expecting the Kinks. To measure it against the Band. After all, the Bootleggers are led by the sons of Dave Davies and Robbie Robertson. But there’s more to “Hard Luck,” more to the Bootleggers, than the sum of their DNA.

“Hard Luck” moves with a steely-eyed, modern propulsion — all nervy riffs, twitchy polyrhythms and portentious imagery. It’s built on a hard-bitten foundation of blues, of psychedelia, of something darker than that, and of something far more dangerous. But the Bootleggers, as the name might suggest, are beholden to none of it. They pick off these influences, use what they need, and keep moving. The results unfold like a flurry of gut punches in the parking lot of an inky black night.

Daniel Davies, like his father, is a guitarist — while Sebastian Robertson memorably handled drums on several tracks from his dad’s 1994 project Music for ‘The Native Americans.’ For this project, however, Robertson is handling guitars while Davies sings. “Hard Luck” grew out of a piece of old-school technology that caught Robertson’s ear — a Bit Commander pedal, by EarthQuaker Devices. This riff was the first thing that emerged; Robertson and Davies added lyrics and tracked the vocals more recently.

The Bootleggers debut album is due later this summer via Lakeshore Records, the soundtrack arm of the Lakeshore Entertainment filmmaking company. Davies and Robertson earlier co-wrote a song for the 2008 movie The Coverup, during a period in which Robertson served as manager for Year Long Disaster, Davies’ band. Year Long Disaster released a self-titled debut in 2007 and then Black Magic: All Mysteries Revealed in 2010. Before that, the two were roommates.

Davies has since issued a solo EP, while Sebastian co-wrote Legends, Icons and Rebels: Music That Changed the World with Robbie Robertson, and helped oversee a massive reissue of the Band’s 1971 Academy of Music concerts. Sebastian also manages a music library called We The People that services some 45 different television programs.

Nick DeRiso

Over a 30-year career, Nick DeRiso has also explored music for USA Today, All About Jazz, Ultimate Classic Rock and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the nation by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Contact him at nderiso@somethingelsereviews.com.