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Critic's Choice

In a weird twist of semantics, the word "authentic" has almost come to mean its exact opposite: fake. In this sense, 20 Miles, playing Tuesday, February 25, at the Larimer Lounge, with the Speeks and the Swayback, could be considered the most authentic blues band in the world. Of course, true authenticity isn't what 20 Miles leader Judah Bauer was ever really about. As the bassist of New York's Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, he's had a hand in some of the most bug-eyed mutations of R&B ever to grace a compact disc. 20 Miles's new, third and best album, Keep It Coming, is the first to truly break out of Spencer's shadow; it's also Bauer's first attempt at using blues and rock as stepping stones instead of speed bumps. Tracks like "Feel Right" and "Only One" tap directly into the source of pseudo-blues, recalling early Free or Peter Green-era Fleetwood Mac. "Rhythm Bound," with its sloppy handclaps and uncombed distortion, almost strays into Stooges territory, and "Street Lights" stomps out a vicious Bob Log/Bo Diddley vibe. The music is whittled down to its garage-rock core, and Bauer's voice -- lazy, stoned and decidedly Caucasian -- finally sounds like him. 20 Miles is definitely not the band you go to see for authentic blues. But, finally, it is the band you go to see for authentic Bauer.
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Jason Heller
Contact: Jason Heller