Some of the best music ever made came from hardcore kids who woke up one day with an itch to twist punk rock into something weird. Granted, the four men of Big Timber -- members of groups such as Bailer, Pariah Caste, Murder Scene Clean Up Team and Call Sign Cobra -- were never exactly hardcore kids. And Lean Down, the quartet's debut, is more than mere post-punk. With a classic-rock and folk bent that would make proud parents of the Hold Steady and the Minutemen, the disc squashes bleak riffs, wiry twang and bloody-lipped narratives into tunes as true and full of flesh as a fist upside the chin. There's no escapism, no pose and not a trace of cool. Epistemologists can split all the hairs they want about reality versus the appearance of reality; Big Timber takes what's in front of your face -- be it a dive bar, a torn heart, the wail of a harp or a lead swiped straight from John Fogerty -- and makes you really feel it. Lean Down is as pure, punk, elemental and utterly necessary as that.
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