3 years ago I was in Boston to see Aaron Watson at a small rock club. My wife and I got there early, so we were playing pool in the back sipping on something chilly, when I see this bearded Bostonian and his boy playing ski-ball. At some point the vending machine guy asked him who was playing tonight, and he kind of sheepishly said, “Aaron Watson…And me”. All of a sudden, the boy in the rock club seemed a lot less odd, he was there to watch his dad rock out, and that’s exactly what he did.
That night I was introduced to Dalton & The Sheriffs with the ringing of electric guitars and a web of crafty lyrics. I have kept tabs on the guys since then, and last month they finally dropped their long-awaited album “After The Parade.” Although I have heard most of the songs over the last 3 years, I’m loving every bit of my first pre-order download of 2018.
I’ve held out this long on writing an article about the guys because I honestly don’t know how to classify them, their music has a country feel but with the spirit of 90’s rock music. I often wonder if I enjoy them simply because it’s the kind of music I’d probably end of making (If I had any talent); some bastardized version of multiple genres, probably never fitting into anyone else’s box. In the end, I think that’s what I love about them, the fact that I can’t define them and that they are carving their own niche.
It’s pretty unique to have so much familiarity with the songs on an album, I’ve heard them more than a few times, and I sing along in my truck. I hate to break an album down completely, but there are a few songs I want to talk about:
“Cheap Guitars” is a rock anthem about the dream all bands have: Making it big. It’s about playing the small venues, dreaming, and paying dues. Pepper in so many little nuggets of information about all the streets and scenes of Boston, and you have a song that this New England boy can’t help but love. All that said, I think everything the song speaks to could be transplanted to any town and any band, just change the names.
“Young Man’s Game” is probably the most telling song on the album; we start with talk about not fitting into skinny jeans, we hear about his old Red Sox cap and Big Papi’s magical 2004 post-season, and we end with “I ain’t changing who I am, just to make myself a name”. Having been a fan of these guys for 3 years now, I can assure you they are not for sale.
The title track “After The Parade” is relatively new, but it’s one of my favorites. This song is about always calling your hometown home, that’s where family and friends are, and that’s what it’s all about. The best lyric on the album is nestled into this song, and it’s so good when belted by Skully: “Rusted chain-link little towns have a certain way of finding ways to let you know who you are when you need reminding”. This was a great song to name the album after, I fully support it.
I will drop a little bit of criticism here, but it’s with a splash of hope. As a long-time fan, I’m somewhat disappointed to not see songs like “A Little East Of Broadway” (My favorite), “Thanks For The Song”, “Junkyard Beauties”, and “80-good”. I can only hope that they will be included in later albums, and with any luck that means another album already has half its songs written. All of the songs mentioned above are available to stream on Spotify as singles, so dig in if you enjoy this album.
There is no doubt that some of the reason I love these guys is that they are a New England band and they sing about Boston themes, it’s hard not to be proud. That said the lyrics have a country story-like feel to them, even with the hopped up electric guitars and Skully’s rockesque raspy voice. I think there is a song for everyone on this album and I think many will find the entire album somehow shoe-horns into their genre, whichever it might be.
The guys are touring around the New England area, and it looks like they are going to take a swing up to northern Vermont later this spring, so I think I am going to make the drive and try to catch that show, I can’t wait!
Visit the boys online to find out where they are playing next: daltonandthesheriffs.com