Listening to Arizona Pinstripe takes me back home to Austin, TX. I’m sitting outside on a boiling hot summer night with sweat sliding down my spine and brow. The speakers on the stage send vibrations through the ground and into the blades of grass I sit on. I’ve never seen Arizona Pinstripe perform, but their blues energy and noticeable charisma sound familiar and comfortable.
The Denver-based blues-rock duo consists entirely of Andrea and Andrew. On their debut EP Path, they sound like a couple of scrappy folks on the road, anxious to make friends or brawl with whatever they find. They’ve spun together elements of backwoods blues and folk with ferocious, straight-up punk. They glorify the road and the dramatic landscape of the west, while also toying with the idea of home.
The album holds my attention on every note, but also leaves me slightly unsatisfied. In some places the duo hits a stride with a consistent blues guitar and gripping harmonica solos. However, the lyrics and harmonies sometimes fall a bit flat. The energy remains strong throughout, but there isn’t always enough fullness of sound between the duo to hold the high octave gritty vocals together with the pared-down instrumentals.
Arizona Pinstripe’s sound aligns with the resurgence of blues rock in the late ’90s and early 2000’s. They tap into bands such as the Alabama Shakes (Brittany Howard’s vocals in particular), and the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. At times, Arizona Pinstripe pushes this blues resurrection in a more punk direction, while also dipping a toe into indie-folk. To classify Arizona Pinstripe as a pure blues group however, would be a mistake. They sound too rehearsed and precise. The songs don’t quite groove.
The combination of sounds and genres the power duo brings together is undeniably unique. However, they often held back perhaps because of a non existent rhythm section. I can imagine Arizona Pinstripe coming to life during live performances.
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