Well if someone's gonna do a straight-up rock n' roll blues album it might as well be rock guru Paul Westerberg, or in this case, his alter-ego Grandpaboy. Westerberg has used the moniker on previous albums that don't quite fit into his style of quirky pop-garage rock.
Whereas, Grandpaboy's last album was a collection of scattershot punk tunes, this time around Westerberg digs into his roots with a few covers, a couple of country rockers, and even some traditional Westerberg songs.
The record opens up with the blues-tinged "MPLS", which sets up the pace for an album that is really more fun than cohesive. "Vampires & Failures" is a slow rock number with a guitar solo of pure feedback that almost sounds like an electric razor. Someone must of forgot to tell Paul to shut it off, because it runs through to the end of the song.
"No Matter What You Say" is a traditional blues ditty that recalls early B.B. King, and flows into the crunchy rockin' "Take Out Some Insurance". Westerberg's production on the latter is so hollow that it sounds like it could easily have been found on an old '50s rock compilation.
On other songs the production is completely off-the-wall, switching from crisp and clean on one track, to crackly on another. It all depends on the era the song is from, or the era Westerberg thinks his new tune sounds like it's from.
Dead Man Shakeis a fun album that should appeal to any Westerberg fan, but new visitors might be turned off by the lack of flow between songs. This record could easily be mistaken for a mix-tape of classic tunes. That is, if Westerberg's voice wasn't so damn distinct.