The Forty-Fives may be from Atlanta, but they seem to have absorbed a lot of Detroit. Trace elements of much of Detroit's greatest music--from Motown soul through the glory days of the Stooges and MC5 up to recent garage-rocking outfits like the Gories, White Stripes and Dirtbombs (whose Jim Diamond produced the new CD)--can all be found riding close to the surface on their third CD, High Life High Volume.
The Forty-Fives' calling card is an undercurrent of soul and R&B that runs just under their super-tight, garage-rocking retro sound. All four members contribute equally to that equation, but keyboard player Trey Tidwell should be singled out; his organ playing in particular gives the Forty-Fives a quick first step that cuts the competition.
They try on a bunch of musical hats on their new album and look and sound great in every tone. "Who Do You Think You Are" is a soul/R&B rave-up; "Go Ahead and Shout" is high-octane blues; and "Bicycle Thief" is convincing honky country. "Superpill" recalls the Aussie punk of The Saints and Celibate Rifles, and "Junkfood Heaven" sounds like the kind of cheeky, R&B flecked punk groove that the Heartbreakers strove for and occasionally nailed live. They even pull off a soulful ballad, "Too Many Miles," and toss in a go-go version of the blues classic "Daddy Rolling Stone."
Impressively, despite all the genre jumping, every track here is stamped solid-gold. High Life High Volume is the party-starter of the year so far.