LABOR CAMP: Through the Fence, Over the Hill, Under the Radar: CD

Nip Drivers guitarist Kurt Shellenbach dusts off his axe, rounds up some cohorts with similar underground pedigrees (Rosemary’s Billygoat, Jaded Apes), and they all delve into the world of bar rock. While there’s nothing inherently awful about their debut, and there are signs of real interesting ideas bubbling under the opening bluegrass instrumental “Diggin’ a Hole” and the arty, dissonant “Romantic Interlude,” the bulk of the songs here come off as unobtrusive blues-based rock at best, well played by a band that knows their way around their instruments but somehow not quite sparking here. Might do well for them to dig around a bit more in their collective punk pasts next go-’round. I’m not calling for a rehash of where they’ve been, but rather a suggestion to draw a little inspiration from that edge that made those earlier bands so interesting and use it to give some oomph to their present and propel their future, whether it be as a straight-ahead rock band, country, chamber orchestra, or whatever. 

 –jimmy (Pitiful)