Music writers are a funny breed of folk. When we talk about “pub rock,” it’s done in hushed, reverent tones reserved for the Nick Lowes and Joe Jacksons of the world; the ones critics adore, but the civilians, maybe not so much. However, say “bar rock” – which, on the level of pure word choice, means the same exact thing – and somehow, it’s a slag. Music for the rabble, lowbrow, unintelligent. I couldn’t disagree more, and present Drexel Hill four-piece The Tressels as Exhibit A for reclaiming the term “bar rock” from the elites. The four-piece does play rock, of the roots-Americana variety; it plays bars as well, and proudly, routinely storming the Trophy Tavern in its hometown. The band’s loud riffs and shouted refrains sound custom-designed to be heard over the din of clanging bottles and rumbling conversation. But also there’s depth, sincerity and serious storytelling skill to this group that shouldn’t be readily dismissed. Their latest EP, American Sunset, was born of what frontman Butch calls an extremely difficult year for he and his fellow Tressels, and it sees the group reflecting on those personal struggles in song. The kicker is the heartbreaking “Priscilla” (which we heard an early version of on The Key Studio Sessions summer mixtape). It looks back on a difficult childhood through an adult’s eyes: “Everything I’d seen through cracks in the door / changed me, I think that’s what they left them open for.” Yes, one could pound pints to its rustic guitar leads if they were so inclined, or maybe bang heads to the riffy “Cold Blue Eyes.” But that doesn’t mean this is stuff of no substance. Check out those two songs below, and if you feel like hearing more, head over to the band’s Soundcloud page, where you’ll find American Sunset available as a free download, beginning today and lasting until its CD release party at The Grape Room on Friday, Nov. 18. Check back here in a few weeks as well, when we’ll be releasing The Tressels’ recent Key Studio Session.
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