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A review of One Man Wrecking Crew by Cledus and the Cadillacs

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Cledus and the Cadillacs
One Man Wrecking Crew
(self-produced)
https://cledusandthecadillacs.bandcamp.com/releases

In a press release accompanying One Man Wrecking Crew, the debut release from local country band Cledus & The Cadillacs, the band’s lead singer cautions the listener that this is not a mainstream-country outfit. Rather, the group has a “decidedly Southwestern Pennsylvania rock-and-roll feel.”

Now as one who despises modern country, I was fine with the first part. But as a connoisseur of the roots/Americana/Ameripolitan sound, I was a little nervous. Because when I think about “Southwestern Pennsylvania rock-and-roll” that appeals to a wide audience, I think of classic-rock, jam-band nonsense that we should have stopped listening to decades ago. Luckily, this record has enough of the first but not too much of the latter to make for a solid freshman outing.

The band, made up of Ryan Macel (guitar, vocals), Joe McGuire (bass, vocals), Mike Hegarty (drums, vocals) and Dan Macel (keyboard, vocals), features four strong musicians. The band does have a country feel, but it’s more of the Bakersfield sound that came from artists like Buck Owens, Dwight Yoakam and Freddie Hart — strong pickers on electric guitars with a pronounced backbeat. There’s also an undeniable blues-rock influence on the record.

The disc features eight original tracks — five written and sung by Ryan Macel and three written and performed by McGuire. McGuire’s tunes border on classic-rock/blues, while Ryan Macel’s have more of that honky-tonk spirit. However, the title cut, written by McGuire, is easily one of the record’s best and has a traditional country vibe. McGuire is also the superior vocalist, but Macel holds his own. “Leave That Stuff Alone,” for example, is his best effort and one of the album’s top tracks. That song also features a smile-inducing keyboard break from Dan Macel. The record also kicks off with Macel’s “Lonely Night in Texas,” which musically is pleasantly reminiscent of the Dave Dudley classic “Six Days on the Road.”

One Man Wrecking Crew is a respectable debut from a four-piece that started out playing country covers live. It’s not without its flaws, though. While you want the tracks to have a natural flow from song to song, some of the tracks suffer from being too similar musically, especially on the front half of the record. But that’s a minor complaint given the enjoyability of the album as a whole.

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