CD Reviews for 09/19/07 – Jason Isbell, Dollar Store

Compact Capsules for 09/19/07
by Dan Ferguson

Jason Isbell
Sirens Of the Ditch
New West Records NW-3025

It was only supposed to be for a tour. That was 2004 and it didn’t take long for “fill-in” guitarist Jason Isbell to establish himself as an important cog in the arsenal of Southern roots rockers Drive-By Truckers. A youngster compared to his DBT mates, it’s that youthful energy that has helped launch Isbell on a solo path with Sirens Of the Ditch his very fine debut. From the riff-filled opener “Brand New Kind of Actress” to the tremolo cool of the bluesy “Down In a Hole” to the moving “Dress Blues” about a pal who didn’t make it back from Afghanistan, with Sirens Of the Ditch Isbell more than lives up to the promise shown during his DBT run. Recommended. (New West Records, 9215 Olympia Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90212, or Also visit

Dollar Store
Money Music
Bloodshot Records BS-126

Dollar Store hails from Chicago and on its sophomore release called Money Music, the four-piece stick to the meat and potatoes rock & roll that defined its self-titled 2003 Bloodshot Records debut. Even with the brawn, there’s a serious side of melody to most all of the Dollar Store business. Money Music sees the foursome flex its muscle in myriad ways from the Sir Douglas Quintet-styled farfisa flecks filling “Twisting In the Wind” to the heavy-fisted, opening one-two salvo of the title track and “Scrap Truck” to the sonic pop grandness of “One Red Cent, One Thin Dime” to the cool strokes of “Reserve the Right”. Featuring a couple of Waco Brothers (Deano & Alan), the 12-pack that is Money Music washes down as easy as a bunch of ice cold PBRs at a joint where George Jones shares the jukebox with The Replacements. About the only thing better would be Dollar Store kicking out the jams on stage at that beer joint. (Bloodshot Records, 3039 W. Irving Park Road, Chicago, IL 60618, or

(Dan Ferguson is a free-lance music writer and host of The Boudin Barndance, broadcast Thursday nights from 6 – 9 pm on WRIU-FM 90.3. He lives in Peace Dale and can be reached at [email protected].)