Dixie Witch is:
Trinidad Leal: Drums, Vox
Curt Christenson: Bass, Vox
JT Smith: Guitars
Background Vox on “Sevens” by Craig Riggs
Produced, mixed and recorded by Benny Grotto @ Mad Oak Studio, Allston, MA.
Recording assisted by Adam Hand.
Mastered by Chris Goosman @ Baseline Audio Labs, Ann Arbor, MI.
Album art design and illustration by DART.
All songs written by Dixie Witch.
I have to admit that even though Dixie Witch has been around for more than a decade, and has released 4 CDs (including this one), I hadn't heard of them before getting this to review. Hailing from Austin, TX this trio stays very true to the sounds that their fans have come to love. The best way to describe it perhaps is as a guitar driven, riff heavy, Southern style Rock album.
The first thing that struck me was the guitar of JT Smith. Featured very heavily on all of the songs it's easy for even the newest listener of their music to see what direction the band is going in. Trinidad Leal sets the pace on drums and handles some of the vocals, and Curt Christenson rounds out the rhythm on the bass, and also handles some of the vocals. Because I so seldom look at liner notes before listening to a disc I didn't realize that the vocal work was shared, but that helped explain the differences that are so promonent from track to track. After listening to it a few times I found myself wishing I knew who was singing which song.
'Let It Roll' has a clean vocal sound that's pretty easy to get in to. Not super abrasive or gutteral, but still perfect for the genre. 'Boogie Man' definitely has a groove but the vocals sounded more muddled and a little forced. I listen to all kinds of music, and it's rare that I feel like I'm struggling to understand what's being sung, but this song is almost like listening to a young Lemmy. As you keep listening the vocals seem to alternate between the two singers, and that is either a blessing or a curse, depending I suppose on what you prefer. Personally I prefer the cleaner, less muddled singing to the Lemmyesque sound.
The one thing that you never doubt listening to this CD is the true passion that the band has for the kind of music that they play. The guitar solos may have been the most enjoyable thing for me simply because they seem heartfelt and are technically sound. Overall it's not a bad CD, although after a few tracks you may find yourself wondering if you've heard this song before. There isn't a lot of diversity from track to track, but for a Rock album it's not bad, not bad at all.
- Melissa Martinez
Now I didn’t invent the phrase “high octane rock’n'roll”, but as whoever did first use that term didn’t (as far as I know) copyright it I’m going to nick it now, because if ever there a band who that description fits perfectly, then it’s Texas’ power trio Dixie Witch.
Actually can we take a moment here to reflect, this is a band playing Southern Rock, who are from the South of the USA. What ARE the chances of that
the band have been around since 1999, and given what erupts from the speakers when you first listen to Let It Roll it’s surprising that they aren’t much better known. I can think of several “big” names in this genre who get nowhere near the power and the glory that these guys deliver.
The band are straight up Rock’n'Roll of the Southern variety. They come from the same musical lineage that gave us Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Fabulous Thunderbirds and ZZ Top but at some point Dixie Witch mutated into something much heavier, a downtuned swamp thing with heavy distorted bottom end that feels like it could trigger earthquake warnings. It’s a real rumbling bulldozer of sound that gives the band a foundation that is almost tectonically heavy. Throw in a singer who actually can sing and some killer riffs and solos and, well, what’s not to like ??
Another thing that lifts this album far beyond average is the sound that Benny Grotto has captured here. It has the energy of a live performance and, for all the rumbling bottom end and downtuned riffs, never sounds mushy or flat, all the dirt is captured in perfect clarity
As Dixie Witch’s better known contemporaries evolve into something with more commercial appeal and head off to play mega-festivals in Europe, JT, CC and Trinidad stay true to their roots. The result is something that just manages to sound, for want of a better cliche, authentic.
Seriously, if you like your rock southern, your riffs huge and you rhythm section able to cause structural damage then you could do worse, much worse, than check out Dixie Witch.
Even with their new guitarist, this Texas trio might've had the riffs and rhythm to hold their own against boogie brontosauri back on '70s farm pastures. They rock chunky and filthy as buffalo chips throughout, and "Red Song" socks the jaw of any geek who claims Dixie Witch are not metal enough. But the vocals too often feel piped in from down the hall, and where your Foghats and Blackfoots really had these guys beat is in the melody department -- though mullet ballad "The High Deal" and road-dogged "We're an American Band" rip "Anthem" give it a good shot. More cowbell couldn't hurt.
- Chuck Eddy
You don’t mess with Texas. ZZ Top, Dallas and Dixie Witch! Guitar, bass, drums and enough whiskey to drown a horse are all Dixie Witch ever needed to pound out a slab of southern fried rock and roll. It may sound like a formula but it’s one that’s served these good old boys for more than a decade, so why change now? Why mess with Dixie Witch?
Formed in 1999, Dixie Witch has established themselves as one of the seminal Texas Power Trios. The trio’s first record, Into the Sun, was recorded for Texas-based Brainticket Records and released in the summer of 2001. Extensive touring with the likes of Alabama Thunder Pussy and Suplecs brought Dixie Witch to the attention of Detroit’s Small Stone Records who released 2003’s follow-up, One Bird, Two Stones. A third album, Smoke & Mirrors, was released in 2006 followed by more touring including the groups first exposure to Europe. Ten years on the road can either make or break a band and in the spring of 2009, Dixie Witch introduced new guitarist Joshua “JT” Todd Smith to fill the void left by original guitarist Clayton Mills. This addition has brought a new energy to the band, creating a springboard into the next chapter of Dixie Witch history.
Let It Roll is called that next chapter in the history of these Texans. And I must confess that I goddamn like what these guys are doing. It’s a very nice album to listen with a great production (not over the top that is) and some great catchy songs on it. Mix some Clutch with ZZ Top and Blackfoot and you might have an idea what you are missing if you haven’t heard this album right now! They have just toured in our country, but I have a little voice inside me saying that they will come back. And that might be earlier then we all think. So if you like some dirty mean southern rock you must really check out Dixie Witch! Listening tips you say? Well you might start with Let It Roll and end with December.
Rating: 84 /100
With a new guitarist, this venerable Texas band continues its trademark with its foot-stomping boogie punch. These tracks would be at home on any modern-rock radio station. Top cuts are "Anthem" and "Automatic Lady."
Loyal reader, one of the things I enjoy about music is that it is a metaphor for life. To be more specific, I like how with both music and life you can be rewarded if you venture into the unknown. Take Dixie Witch for instance. My introduction to this band came when I saw it listed as a similar artist to Five Horse Johnson on Grooveshark. So I checked out this band and that's where the reward comes in. The reward in this case comes in the form of 10 hard-rocking songs that need to be played at high volume.
One thing is abundantly clear when you listen to this band. This Texas trio believes in guitars and volume. The guitars bring Clutch (and yes, Five Horse Johnson) to mind. In fact, that is not a bad comparison for the sound of this band, but I think it's more accurate to say that Dixie Witch lies somewhere between Clutch and Texas Hippie Coalition. It is a heavy brand of rock that borders metal.
There is not a lot of mystery here. Let It Roll (Small Stone Recordings, 2011) is the kind of album that you want to blare out of your car as you're driving. Or any other time you want some real rock instead of the stuff served up on commercial radio. Do yourself a favor, check this album out. Then put it on your stereo, turn up the volume, and enjoy.
- Gary Schwind
Sometimes you just want to rock. No muss, no fuss – just bear down with a set of walloping drums, burly vocals and amp-frying guitars putting bluesy, big rawk melodies through the wringer. There are plenty of bands out there who can give you that experience with a reasonable degree of satisfaction, though they often sacrifice originality for consistency of attack. There’s nothing wrong with that approach – the ability to blast out the thunderboogie with no frills is an increasingly lost art. But it’s always nice when a band goes the extra mile and decides to compose songs instead of stringing together riffs.
That’s a lesson Austin, Texas trio Dixie Witch has taken to heart on its fourth LP Let It Roll. The band has long had its skillful blend of Black Sabbath and Blackfoot down cold, and it would have been easy to coast on the purely sensual pleasure of frontbeard Trinidad Leal‘s supple growl as it rides this grungy butt-rock beast. But after a few fine albums in that vein, the threesome apparently got restless. Aided by superb new guitarist JT Smith, Leal and bassist/vocalist Curt Christensen integrate a sense of soaring melody into their power chord fusillade, giving burning rockers “The High Deal,” “Sevens” and the appropriately titled “Anthem” a fresh roar. Putting some singalong tunefulness into some tracks lets the unabashed wailers like “December” and “Boogie Man” revel more gracefully in their sheer power. The Witch’s relentless onslaught has served it well in the past, especially live, but letting a little open air into Let It Roll injects new life into its classic sound.
- Michael Toland
4th album of Southern rock 'n' boogie from the long-serving Texas power trio.
Despite the singular name Dixie Witch are an all male three piece who serve up bronco-bucking riff and roll. Drums, bass, guitar and vocals combine into a sound that’s the epitome of powerhouse ensemble playing. Paving slab heavy beats and pile-driving bass provide the bedrock over which the band’s new guitarist, Joshua “JT” Todd Smith, gives flight to his crunchy omnivore riffs and untamed solos.
It’s a record born out of old-fashioned touring, playing around clubs and festivals and gauging what works in front of a crowd. Not for these guys is the instant and often fleeting adoration that comes from being a hit on the trendier-than-thou blogosphere. This is a sound honed on the road, in the firing line, where you can get hurt. You either toughen up or you stop. Drummer/vocalist Trinidad Leal, and bassist/vocalist Curt “CC” Christensen have been making music together as Dixie Witch since 1999, with original guitarist Clayton Mills deciding to leave in 2009. It’s this marathon rather than a sprint approach which has resulted in the band’s continuation. As they state on their ode to good luck “Sevens” – “this is a travelling song / one where I belong / with my brothers and a dream.”
Title track “Let It Roll” starts the album off hard and heavy with its carpel-strengthening guitar workout. And from thereon in their brand of Americana is let loose through the remaining nine tracks, a barrage of metallic stoner rock and prime beef southern rock ‘n’ boogie. Sure it’s a blokey sound, and there’s sense of little light and shade, the pace and sonic attack unrelenting, but I get the feeling they’d not have it any other way. It’s unapologetically rock and freaking roll.
Don’t expect sensitivity, subtlety or “pity me, I’m down” introspection; this is an album for rocking out, for drinking warm cans of beer to, and for re-connecting with your inner rock-god. Horns of rock incarnate.
- Duncan Fletcher
Some bands innovate and strive toward the future. Others just rock. Austin’s Dixie Witch has spent the last decade digging its boots into the swampiest, most Southern-fried hard rock imaginable. As someone who grew up in Florida in a household saturated with Southern rock, I just can’t resist Let It Roll, Dixie Witch’s latest batch of swaggering, sincerely badass jams. The riffs are gritty. The low-end is greasy. The attitude is Molly Hatchet meets Mastodon. The only thing missing are the greens and cornbread.
Not all witches are from Dixie. Some hail from much farther south—you know, like Hell and stuff. Okay, so Nine Covens is technically from England. But the group’s debut, On The Coming Of Darkness, imagines all manner of Satanic devastation. Steeped in monolithic black metal and a thick undergrowth of doom, Darkness is an unrelentingly horrific end-times soundtrack that pares things down to a primeval simplicity. The mysterious outfit claims to be a supergroup of sorts, but it has yet to disclose its official membership. So, yeah, Ghost, whatever. But don’t let the gimmickry fool you; this disc is a deep, bleak beauty.
- Jason Heller
Nuthin' Fancy shrugged Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1975, titling its third LP, which opens by emptying all six rounds of "Saturday Night Special." Metallic Southern rock locals Dixie Witch aren't packing quite suh a classic on fourth album Let It Roll other than Detroit indie Small Stone (also home to Tia Carrera) still sponsoring these rock & rollers going back nearly a decade. As such, not one round is wasted here, all 10 songs in 36 minutes clustered around the heart on the shooting range target. Muscle-car riffs, choruses, and production-exhaust rumble and kick from the opening title cut, with "The High Deal" soon thereafter evoking a "wishing well" that might pass as a distant cousin of Free morphed into Bad Company – only harder. "Red Song" and "Second Chance," both blue-collar bruisers assuming confident midtempos, funnel into chopping closer "December." Open 'er up, Let It Roll.
- Raoul Hernandez
Yes, I'm a huge fan of Texas' DIXIE WITCH. They are the perfect embodiment of a heavy power trio that is driven by the immortal spirit of rock 'n' roll. All this is rounded off by a soulful and positive vibe that is hard to find these days in heavy music. Even though 'One Bird Two Stones' is their weakest album (especially in direct comparisons with the masterful debut 'Into The Sun'), it will not change the fact that DIXIE WITCH is an oustanding band. No wonder, then, that I was very happy when Small Stone Records announced the release of the band's fourth full-length 'Let It Roll'. First off: I am not disappointed, but quite the opposite. This is definitely one of their strongest albums and I understand drummer/vocalist Trinidad Leal, who told me after the show in Stuttgart that 'Let It Roll' is something like a new start for the band (by the way, here's a review of that show).
I think one of the reasons is also the new guitarist Joshua 'JT' Todd Smith who fits perfectly into the band. The first cut on their new album is entitled 'Let It Roll' and it is their signature song. I don't know if there is a finer tune for an opening song that features the combination of heavy riffs, forceful rhythms, and Trindad's charismatic vocals than what you will find here. There is something about their songwriting where you really feel the emotion of the songs and the music reinforces that and takes you to a higher level. Basically, there's not a bad tune on this album. 'Red Song' is a powerful, ass-kickin' anthem that touched me really deep, but actually the entire album is bursting with power and life. As has been the case in the past, Trindad shares the vocals with bassist Curt Christenson or, in other words, there are three tracks where 'CC' takes over the lead vocals.
To be honest, he can not hold the candle to the soulful yet rough edge singing of drummer Trinidad, but nevertheless, Curt is doing a good job. Moreover, its provides for additional variety. All in all, 'Let It Roll' is a killer album and I can only hope that it will develop a broader fan base. One thing, though, is perfectly clear, and that is that no producer in this world will manage to capture the overpowering live energy of DIXIE WITCH. You have to see them on stage to understand what makes them so great and unique. Meanwhile, I advise you to buy 'Let It Roll' because DIXIE WITCH is still a formidable force to be reckoned with.
Metal Express Rating: 8.0/10
It has been almost five years since the last word of the witch. Now Dixie Witch are back with a new guitarist who replaced one of the founding members. With album number five, Let It Roll, '70s Southern Hard Rock is back to knock and get drunk. Heeding towards the margins of old bands and artists such as Alman Brothers, early Black Sabbath and Hendrix's Experience, this is one of the truest replications for whoever is a fan or wants to better get to know those days.
In the last decade there has been an awakening amongst Hard Rock bands to act, dress, and sound like bands from the '70s. Some are quite skilled, like Rival Sons for instance, and make the '70s Acid Rock era proud. Dixie Witch has been doing this for quite some time and also play the part admirably. Let It Roll features vintage grooves, a fuzz-like sound, barking vocals that also include elements of softness, classic wah-wah solos, and great beats.
It seems the main focus of the album's music was the search for a great, catchy, groovy riff that will be easy to connect to by the listener. That is probably why some of those grooves sound so similar to Black Sabbath's older, overdosed, fuzz rhythms. However, those riffs underwent a Southern makeover that created a slightly different feel. Those well-played riffs were the main aspect behind the success of some of the songs around here. Of course, the switching vocals between bass and drums were also integral, but this is what this music is all about: sheer grooves.
Most recommended from Let It Roll are "Sevens", "The Real Deal", "Second Chance" and the title track, "Let It Roll". '70s fans will most certainly enjoy this album. It is accessible, a fun listen, and includes many classic moments.
- LIOR “STEINMETAL” STEIN
Texas.Trio. ZZ Top! No…not this time. But a band that developed a sound for themselves too; Dixie Witch. The band has been around for ten years but has established some reputation already. The organizers of the Dutch Roadburn festival recognized this too and so they invited the band to come and play. Quite an honor these days. Sounding like a cocktail of Clutch, Van Halen, Lynyrd Skynyrd and a slight Sabbath the band is heavy, groovy and swinging with the added element of the trio chemistry. The arrival of guitar player Joshua ‘JT’ Todd Smith in 2009 gave the band a little boost and that is proved by the even more ‘melted’ sound. Just hear how the rocking in ‘The High Deal’, ‘Red Song’ en ‘Automatic Lady’, there’s not a music lover around who will keep still. They are not offering too much variety though. Good record, full sound and I think we will get to see Dixie Witch often here.
Summary: While not as diverse as some stoner rock releases of 2011, “Let It Roll” still packs a punch with its remarkably powerful boogie rock.
It's safe to say that Dixie Witch will never change their style. After founding guitarist Clayton Mills left the band two years ago only to be replaced by JT Smith, the fourth album of the Texan power trio doesn't really depart from their all-too-familiar, yet always dependable formula. Just as their previous releases, “Let It Roll” explores high-energy riff rock with notable southern leanings. Fans of this rather straightforward blend of heavy music will certainly find this record engrossing since it's loaded with huge arena rock riffs, anthemic choruses and arresting, if fairly conventional dynamics.
While Dixie Witch clearly refuse to step out of their comfort zone, they really step up their game in terms of songwriting, displaying newly acquired maturity. Contrary to the band's previous offerings, “Let It Roll” seems really consistent throughout containing only a handful of inferior, less focused tunes. Singing drummer Trinidad Leal complements the tight instrumental performance with soulful howls being more commanding than ever before. In fact, his never-less-than-endearing vocals constitute the greatest asset of the album, making it far more genuine than your average hard rock release.
Even though "Let It Roll" relies on the wide range of classic rock influences, it still feels overly homogeneous. The individual tracks just work way better when absorbed one at a time. The album may not exactly overstay its welcome in its short 36-minute running time, yet some segments of it feel sonically repetitive and rehashed. There are just too many tracks on here that share uncannily similar dynamics. It would be desirable for Dixie Witch to be more adventurous by introducing both different tempos and moods into their songs. They should expand their musical palette not only by composing some mellower tracks, but also more abrasive ones. This would certainly put them in the same league with such Small Stone label mates of theirs as Halfway To Gone and Suplecs.
Nonetheless, the brazen, punishing attitude that Dixie Witch display largely makes up for the lack of diversity. “Let It Roll” still offers enough in terms of song craft and musicianship to leave a powerful impression on heavy rock fans. This might not be a particularly memorable album in the long run, but it's still legitimately fun to listen to, especially at high volume.
- Greg Fisher
Indeed, the name of the band and the title is sufficiently explanatory of the contents of its reported albums. The trio from Austin releases his fourth job and easily becomes palatable to all who appreciate the directness. The reasons are many: the material is kalopaigmeno is not tweaked to technological applications, typical, but are nice sample of Americans. It consumed a fioritoures is svelte, friendly sound, reminiscent of acquaintances who go to see at a favorite bar. All pieces are solid, dynamic character, the sound is clear enough, but vromismenos, exude good mood music and the vocals are very nice. Keep things simple, efsynopta, hence ideal for comfortable listening. If you trust a company whose albums easily and become miserable, then suddenly you may find that listening to this album more often than you might expect. (translated from Greek)
Όντως, η επωνυμία του συγκροτήματος και ο τίτλος είναι επαρκώς επεξηγηματικά του περιεχομένου του παρουσιαζόμενου άλμπουμ. Το τρίο από το Ώστιν κυκλοφορεί την τέταρτη δουλειά του και εύκολα γίνεται αρεστό σε όλους όσους εκτιμούν την αμεσότητα. Οι λόγοι είναι πολλοί: το υλικό τους είναι καλοπαιγμένο, δεν είναι πειραγμένο με τεχνολογικές εφαρμογές, τυπικό μεν, αλλά ωραίο δείγμα αμερικανιάς. Δεν αναλώνονται σε φιοριτούρες, είναι σβέλτοι, ακούγονται φιλικοί, θυμίζουν γνωστούς σας που πάτε να δείτε σε κάποιο αγαπημένο μπαρ. Όλα τα κομμάτια έχουν σταθερό, δυναμικό χαρακτήρα, ο ήχος είναι επαρκώς βρωμισμένος αλλά ευκρινής, αποπνέουν την καλή διάθεση των μουσικών, και τα φωνητικά είναι πολύ συμπαθητικά. Κρατάνε τα πράγματα απλά, ευσύνοπτα, γι’ αυτό και προσφέρονται για άνετες ακροάσεις. Αν εμπιστεύεστε την εταιρεία για την οποία δισκογραφούν και δεν γίνεστε εύκολα μίζεροι, τότε ξαφνικά μπορεί να ανακαλύψετε ότι ακούτε αυτόν το δίσκο πιο συχνά απ’ όσο ίσως περιμένατε.
- George Politopoulos
Now this is my kinda album - no ballads, no keyboards, no acoustic guitars! Dixie Witch is a band you can count on for heads down, no nonsense boogie. Anything less from a Texas three piece rock band would be complete heresy. Let It Roll is the first Dixie Witch album since 2006 and marks the debut of new guitarist Joshua "JT" Todd Smith alongside the usual rhythm section of bassist Curt "CC" Christenson and singing drummer Trinidad Leal.
Right out of the gate, the band hits hard on the opening title track and you'll be reaching for the volume knob. Is that the new Dixie Witch? WELL, TURN IT UP! The intensity picks up on the 2nd song "Boogie Man." For those of you who have been waiting the past 30 years for The Rods to write a follow up to "Rock Hard," your time has come. This song is the perfect blend of Blackfoot and early Krokus (some of their early tapes are pretty good, and you know it). "The High Deal" is a great song to fire up at quitting time as you go space trucking to happy hour. There's also a great song called "Anthem" that thankfully has absolutely nothing in common with the Rush song of the same name.
There isn't a dud on this entire record. 10 songs kick ass songs in 36 minutes will leave you wanting more. The production is great, heavy but not metal guitar sounds, pounding drums and thunderous bass. Let It Roll was designed to be played loud in a moving vehicle. Rather than write about it, that's exactly what I'm gonna do right now.
With the title track leading off the album, I was kinda hoping for a BTO cover—hey, Acid King does a mean “Not Fragile,” after all—but alas, twas not to be.
While there might not be any Bachman-Turner on here, there’s no doubt that warm classic rock tones pervade tunes like “Boogie Man” and “Red Song.” Of the other numbers, “The High Deal” recalls early Collective Soul (“Spit It Out”), albeit with a heavier chorus, while “Sevens” has a big arena-rock, power-ballad, raise-yer-fist-and-yell attack and “Anthem” sounds a lot like The Obsessed, circa Lunar Womb.
For the most part, Dixie Witch straddles the line between southern and stadium rock, and while this album mostly hits the mark, there isn’t that much separating one song from the next. That said, Let It Roll doesn’t drag, at 36 minutes long, so you get your fill before it becomes too much to handle.
- Gruesome Greg
Twelve years and four albums into their career and five years since the last album, “Smoke And Mirrors” it’s very much business as usual for Dixie Witch. Even the departure of founding guitarist Clayton Mills in 2009 and subsequent replacement by JT Smith has done nothing to diminish or detract from the band’s hooch fuelled southern rocking shenanigans.
Let’s face it, we don’t look to the Witch dudes for high concept pieces, multi layered, orchestrated musical experiments or complex wordplay. No, we look to the Witch to kick our asses with some of the most bitching, hard rock and roll on the planet, and on “Let It Roll” they deliver…in spades!!!
From the opening title track, through “Boogie Man” to the closing strains of “December”, Dixie Witch channel the departed spirits of Ronnie Van Zandt and Greg Allman through a cranked up Marshall, a barrel of Jack Daniels and more drugs than a touring funk band. This is heavy, southern rock and roll for the stoned generation, the sort of thing that, through bands such as Sun Gods In Exile, The Brought Low, Halfway To Gone and Roadsaw, Small Stone have excelled in delivering to a pent up, anally retentive world to loosen spines and befuddle minds. It’s hard to pick out stand out tracks, the album rarely lets up in intensity whether they’re hammering hard on tracks such as “Anthem” or pulling it back from the edge on “The High Deal”. Dixie Witch have this whole sound sewn right up. It flows from their pores in a whisky sweat and inhabits their skin like a Confederate flag tattoo. No riff here is surplus to requirements, no melody anything less than catchy and from the soul.
This time round drummer, the excellently named Trinidad Leal and bassist Curt “CC” Christenson share vocals more than they have done on previous releases, though it is Leal’s slightly stronger, Dave Wyndorf like voice that does dominate with a greater sense of soul. Similarly new guitarist JT Smith has succeeded in toning down the band’s metal muscle and injects a greater sense of the blues into the proceedings whilst retaining the irresistible, treacle thick fuzz tones of his predecessor.
For a while there it looked as though the Dixie Witch story was done and dusted but on the strength of this album it looks as though that is far from the case and the band have plenty of life in their old bones yet. Let’s hope they don’t leave it another five years before giving us a fine excuse to crack open some cold brews and party like its 1975!!!
- Ollie Stygall
Dixie Witch are far from being at their peak, quality wise, but that does not mean that they can't still deliver an album that has a powerful kick and does what it's supposed to do. Which is rock the hell out of a set of speaker with simple and merciless Heavy Southern. The main problem I have with the record is exactly that: it's a good album but that's it. I mean, do you guys remember what Dixie Witch meant in the age of “Smoke And Mirrors” or the glory that were the “Sucking The Seventies” complations. They used to be one of my all-time favourite bands in the practically flawless rooster of Small Stone Records. They delivered basic stuff, bluesy souther-fried riff with a lot of fuzz and distortion, but man they did like only a few others did.
What I got with “Let It Roll” was a short (barely over thirty minutes. Not necessarily a flaw but not a good thing either, in the days where albums are an investment) and simple set of anthemic tunes that at times dropped into oversimplified riff rock by-the-numbers. Dont misunderstand me, the songs here have a raw, unpolished, fist pumping glory that you will adore if you like the genre. It's hard to deny that the guys know very well what they're doing and have those gritty sounds deeply engrained into their DNA. Still after a five-year hiatus, I kinda expected more.
In the end, all “Let It Roll” is, is a well done, dirty and very simple pebble of Boogie Rock, that hits and then is easily forgotten. Again, it works and its fun. But in a time where there's many bands who are approaching this type of sound and doing it well, I would've expected a better effort from Giants like Dixie Witch. 6/10
Review Written By Andreas Contanzo
What's it been, guys? Five years? Dixie Witch's 2006 effort, Smoke and Mirrors, managed to firmly cement the band's status as Austin's booze-stained Boogie Rock gods. On 2011's Let It Roll, they demonstrate their continued dedication to the cause. You won't find any 8-minute opus on this disc, and you also won't find original guitarist Clayton Mills. What you're treated to, though, is ten fuzzy shards of jagged licks and rolling rhythms on the band's fourth release.
The opening title track springboards listeners into a sea of killer southern riffs and groove that, amazingly, don't melt away in the span of an all-too-quick 36 minutes. Let It Roll demonstrates cosmic admiration, hog-tied production, and one hell of a good time. This power trio ain't lettin' their amped knowledge of songwriting and instrumentation get in the way of leaving behind a trail of blistered lips and weak knees. Ladies must LOVE this shit.
New guitarist J.T. Smith gets his share of marquee billing on damn-near every southern stone on this disc, and rightly so. Boogie Man begins with a choppy axe/skin reach-around, but audiences are liable to get soaked in dark themes, lifted portside tempos, and a fuzzy breakdown that mimics a cool, buzzed rumble through misty morning debauchery. Follow it up with The High Deal, and you'll see exactly why J.T.'s giving hard-ons to record label execs. A confident crunch, flanked by smoked-out bass and soaring Van Halen pipes, hums until a soulful string ascent sets fire to this ballad and steps back as that old barn burns.
Ah, shit. I shouldn't lead you guys to think CC and Trinidad have thrown on leotards and stuffed their shorts à la David Lee Roth. Hell no. Red Song and Anthem are marching, fist-pumping tales of vengeance and loss. These dudes have had nothing handed to them, and beyond the fuzziness you'll hear three dudes that've been thrown into a few barbed-wire fences. Halfway through these songs, you'll be picking moss out of your hair and dirt from your nails.
Beyond their vocals, CC and Trinidad haven't forgotten how to lay down some thick black carpet. Trinidad's drums motor up sidewalks, knocking over blue-haired old ladies on Saving Grace. Sevens is the album's bounce-heavy gravel road to gambling addiction. Pair the low-end fuzz with some ashy licks and you barely notice your skin's a deep shade of beaten.
And when these assholes wanna pick it up and get scandalous, it seems to come easier than that drunk bitch down the block. Enjoy a quick roll through the hay with Automatic Lady all you want, and be sure and tell your friends. (You're also gonna need to burn those clothes, by the way). December is a perfect, frenetic closing to an album that doesn't let up and doesn't disappoint. Quick tempo parallels a quick mood, along with a guitar highlight that's gonna leave scars up your back.
Dixie Witch certainly haven't gotten clean. Let It Roll is loud exhaust pipes, spilled Lone Star, and a gaze or two at the heavens. But on the other hand, this band's not gonna let a little fuzz hide prodigious song craftsmanship. It's a nice balance. But if I'm ever able to catch these guys live, keeping a sober balance is the last thing I'll worry about.
Has it really been five years since Dixie Witch's third album, Smoke and Mirrors, whupped a donkey's ass with an electrifying jolt of down-and-dirty, heavy Southern rock? Where the hell has the time gone? Well, wherever it went, it was put to very good use by the hard-living and hard-touring power trio, ‘cause their fourth trip into the studio, 2011's Let It Roll, took them to a whole new level of power and maturity. That's right, Dixie Witch really are all "growned" up now, but they're hardly sailing topographic oceans; they're just going about their blue-collar business with much more confidence and guile than ever before. Perhaps the 2009 addition of new guitarist Joshua "JT" Todd Smith had something to do with this turn of events, given the mostly killer, no-filler songwriting on hand, but singing drummer Trinidad Leal also clearly stepped up his game, his soulful howls commanding center stage with authority. Hear him growl his best on the title cut, "Sevens," "Second Chance," and others, then lay back when it suits the likes of "Boogie Man" and "Saving Grace," but it's the overall sonic variety that will likely turn the most heads. "Red Song" and "December" may be two of the band's most viciously memorable statements ever; "Anthem" sees them knocking back shots at the intersection between Grand Funk and Monster Magnet; and both the laid-back "The High Deal" and "Automatic Lady" mine classic Southern rock vibes reminiscent of Blackfoot. Ultimately, it seems Dixie Witch have finally mastered the art of bridging ancient classic rock influences with present-day vitality for maximum results, achieving a level of roughshod rocking, barroom brawling, beer-swigging, bottle-breaking-over-skull accomplishment with Let It Roll that most pundits honestly never saw in them. Good on them.
- Eduardo Rivadavia
Dixie Witch are back and in full force. Let It Roll is the band’s 4th album in 10 years and it packs quite the punch.
Dixie Witch, for those that don’t know, play hard southern rock. They have a good reputation for turning out great music as is evident by their continued success from album to album. There’s an old saying that goes “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Dixie Witch seems to be going by this saying as Let it Roll doesn’t stray to far from past releases. That isn’t to say though that it’s more of the same, far from it actually. The songs on Let it Roll seem to be more mature and more refined. It has a bit of a Monster Magnet feeling to it. Perhaps it’s the addition of guitarist Joshua “JT” Todd Smith and his style and flare. I don’t know but I like it. I must like it a lot as I have about 10 plays of the album so far in the short time I’ve had it and it’s playing now as I write this review.
What you’re getting with Let it Roll is a 36 minutes of hard southern rock. There’s no slow sappy songs or anything out of the ordinary to “break up the action.” Dixie Witch come out of the starting gates blazing really strong and show no signs of slow down. The quality is top notch as to be expected from a Small Stone Records release. The vocals are loud and clear, the guitars are awe inspiring, the drumming is very catchy. The bass seems to be a little less dominant but you can tell it’s there and sounds good. Overall, it’s a great sounding album. Hats off to the great Mad Oak Studios for another great job on this one. Let it Roll is a classic in the making, grab it now. Listen to “The High Deal” below then grab your CD from Small Stone or download from iTunes.
Genre: Bong ripping classic rock
Rating: 9 out of 10 chocolate starfish
It’s been 5 years since their last record, Smoke and Mirrors (Small Stone 2006), was released. This would also be the last record that founding member, Clayton Mills, would play guitar. Generally member replacement can be overcome rather easily, unless you’re a power-trio, who has been a band for over a decade and is in the midst of putting out their fourth record. They knew with a lineup change the comparisons between the past and present were on the way. Pressure? Probably the same kind O.J. experienced when he was asked to try on the legendary “bloody glove” in front of a jury of his peers. Well, Trinidad Leal (drums/vocals) and Curt Christenson (bass/vocals) found their Johnny Cochran. Enter J.T. Smith on guitar. The Dreadlocked Red River Rocker sports ballsy tone, masterful shredding capability, and the knack to lock in with this all-star rhythm section.
It wasn’t 10 minutes after this record hit my mailbox I had the opening track, “Let It Roll“, blistering from my stereo speakers. It also dawns on me as the vocals start how much Trinidad Leal sounds like ’78 era David Lee Roth. “Let It Roll” is everything an opening song should be. A high-energy ass kickin’ rock anthem that sets the speed for the entire record. The second track, “Boogie Man”, sways more toward the southern-fried roots of the band. This song features the lead vocals of p-bass meister, Curt Christenson, and also features a rhythm change for the guitar solo that hasn’t been pulled off since Skynrd did it in ’76. Christenson also handles lead vocal duties on the t-tops-rocker,“Saving Grace” and punk infused “Automatic Lady”, the shortest cut on the record. Christenson’s vocal-style leans a little more toward Molly Hatchet than VH, which really helps a simple style from becoming overly monotonous.
It’s still undecided whether “The High Deal” or “Sevens” wins the award for feel good hit of the summer. Everytime Leal opens his mouth and unleashes his signature vocal wail, “YEEEEEAAAAAAAH!”, which there is no shortage of on this record, you’re natural inclination is to raise your fist in the air and step on the accelerator.
Unlike your typical commercial release, the album does not bottom out at the half-way point and motors at full-throttle until the end. “Red Song”, “Anthem”, “Second Chance”, and “December” fill out the rest of the wax.
No filler, all thriller! Let it Roll is the most sincere meat and potatoes classic rocker of 2011. The only thing better than hearing the record is seeing it live.
Let it Roll was recorded with Benny Grotto (producer/engineer) from Mad Oak Studios in Allston, Massachusetts. Grotto did a masterful job at capturing the band’s live sound on tape. Major bonus points. Thick, thick, thick. Big Drums, perfectly tweaked vintage bass tone and molten hot lava guitar tones.
As smooth and unpretentious as the easy-drinking Lone Star Beer brewed in their home state of Texas, heavy Southern rock trio Dixie Witch have undergone some considerable changes over the course of their 12-year run. It’s astonishing to think it’s been five years since their stellar third album, Smoke and Mirrors, was released by Small Stone, and even more so to imagine the three-piece without guitarist Clayton Mills, who left in 2009. On Dixie Witch’s fourth album, Let it Roll (also Small Stone), dreadlocked guitarist Joshua “JT” Todd Smith makes his debut alongside founding drummer/vocalist Trinidad Leal and bassist/vocalist Curt “CC” Christensen, and as much as Mills’ tone, classic rock soloing and ability to lock in a groove with Leal and Christensen was a huge part of what made Dixie Witch the rock and roll powerhouse they were, the band hasn’t missed a beat. Smith rips through leads and lacks nothing in tonal heft, and Dixie Witch’s latest brims with the energy that has always been so prevalent in their sound.
More than energetic, though, the 10 tracks on Let it Roll are memorable, from the opening title cut – on which Smith quickly shows his hand as regards sped-up blues soloing – to the punkish late-album highlight “Automatic Lady” and on through closer “December.” Dixie Witch have always had their love of classic rock on their sleeve, and that’s definitely in play on Let it Roll as well, but the album is more a showcase of songwriting ability than ‘70s fetishism. Recorded at Mad Oak in Allston, Massachusetts, by Small Stone’s go-to engineer Benny Grotto, the balance of natural, live sound and clarity that has shown up on much of the label’s latter-day output (see also: 2011 releases from Freedom Hawk, Backwoods Payback, Lo-Pan, Roadsaw and Suplecs) is in full and righteous effect across Let it Roll. The dude knows how to make rock records sound like rock records, and Dixie Witch, for their part, certainly have some expertise in the matter as well. Leal’s drums don’t have the same kind of brightness in the hi-hat or prevalence in the mix as they did on Smoke and Mirrors (produced by Joel Hamilton), but everything is in order, and as Leal and Christensen set the tone for the several lead-vocal tradeoffs the album has on offer in the transition between “Let it Roll” and “Boogie Man,” the sense of balance is palpable.
That Leal and Christensen share lead vocal duties adds diversity to Dixie Witch’s approach, which is still relatively straightforward no matter who’s fronting at any given moment. The band’s propensity for strong choruses shines through, and “Boogie Man” shows right away that just because they’re using a consistent songwriting tactic doesn’t mean different personalities can’t be carried across. “The High Deal,” for example, follows “Boogie Man.” Leal takes over the vocals once more, and the song is less outwardly vibrant, a little slower, a little more ringing Southern note progression from Smith in the verse, and in that kind of heavy rock song of the road that Dixie Witch have always excelled at crafting without ever sounding foolish or overtly inauthentic. It’s a solid lead-in for the catchy “Red Song,” which revives the more energetic take and finds Leal putting his toms and double-kick bass drum (of which I’m normally not a fan) to excellent use setting up another engaging solo from Smith. Of all the tracks on Let it Roll, “Red Song” is among the easiest to imagine in a live setting, Christensen’s rumble adding emphasis to Leal’s persistent pedal work, and the band’s formidable charisma materializing even from just the audio.
Smith begins “Saving Grace,” which caps the first half of Let it Roll with Christensen again taking the fore. His approach is a good contrast for Leal’s, as he has more of a shout to what he does, where the drummer is more definitively rooted in the Southern rock tradition. “Saving Grace” feels in a hurry to get to the chorus, but satisfies anyway once it gets there, and as the halfway point of the album comes and goes, it’s apparent just how quickly Dixie Witch are moving through the vinyl-friendly 36 minutes of the album. Not surprising, since even going as far back as their 2001 Into the Sun debut or 2003’s One Bird, Two Stones, they’ve never been much for wasting time, but 10 years after the release of that first album, their efficiency seems even more potent, their delivery more confident and their awareness of who they are as musicians all the more encompassing – doubly impressive considering this is Smith’s first appearance on record. In that regard, Dixie Witch was probably right to tour first with him in the band and hone their chemistry in a live setting before entering the studio. It may have made the spread of time between Smoke and Mirrors and Let it Roll longer, but the songs are undoubtedly stronger and tighter for it.
Partial credit for that (or at least the presentation of it on the album) should probably go to Grotto as well, whose expertise in recording this kind of music is second to nobody’s. As the second half of Let it Roll gets underway with a guest appearance from Roadsaw’s Craig Riggs (also the owner of Mad Oak Studios) on the mid-paced “Sevens,” the focus is again put on the live sound, as Leal directly addresses the audience and announces, “This is a traveling song/I’m where I belong/With my brothers and the dream,” in the chorus, once again showing the band’s knack for “road songs.” They’ve done their share of touring, it’s true, but after a point, the numbers become secondary to the mood and groove of the tracks themselves, which as ever are conveyed with that same classic sensibility of hard road living that’s driven countless tracks both in Dixie Witch’s discography and in the annals of the rock that’s inspired them. “Anthem” proves to be a statement of intent in which Leal makes reference to the shifts the band has undergone and mentions lost heroes and friends in a manner not dissimilar from that of “Set the Speed” from Smoke and Mirrors, but the song’s lack of frills and, frankly, lack of bullshit, place it among the stronger tracks on Let it Roll. All the more appropriate, then, it should be followed with “Automatic Lady,” which is the shortest of the cuts at 2:11 and arguably the most infectious, Christensen’s vocals more than at home amid the punkish rush.
Even at just over two minutes, Dixie Witch finds room to work in a solo from Smith, managing to get it in under the line in the track’s second half, so the effect is basically that “Automatic Lady” follows the same course as the rest of the material on Let it Roll, and is just more condensed. It’s a shot of energy from which Side B benefits, and though “Second Chance” returns to the effective middle pacing of “Red Song,” the momentum Dixie Witch have constructed by this point in Let it Roll isn’t so easily derailed. The hook of “Second Chance” doesn’t quite stand up to some of the other material, but sandwiched between “Automatic Lady” and closer “December,” it’s surrounded by some of the record’s best songs, and rightfully so. “December” reestablishes the vibrancy of Let it Roll’s opening salvo with a faster tempo and fitting closeout from Leal on vocals. Like many of the songs, it leaves an impression that lasts longer than its runtime, and in that way, as much as “Let it Roll” opened the album with a suitable establishing of the upbeat and lively Dixie Witch ethic, so too does “December” affirm it one last time. I’ll admit to being cautious in my approaching Let it Roll, having put such stock in Clayton Mills’ guitar as an essential element of the band, but with the addition of Smith, Dixie Witch have found a way to avoid the trap of falling backwards that lineup shuffles sometimes brings about, instead refining the approach of their last album and progressing even further in terms of craft. Roll on, gentlemen.
This album, Dixie Witch’s fourth, with its gold chrome letters on crushed black leather, is the simplest, most uncomplicated, and appropriately textured statement the band could make concerning their return after a five year absence. As if anticipating the inevitable question, ‘Well, what are you going to do now?’ they’ve just gone and shrugged and said, ‘Let it roll, motherfucker!’ With all due respect to the Small Stone bands who’ve already released albums this year, and many condolences to the ones yet to come, this here is the Olympic pinnacle, and the trio of long-toothed Texan troublemakers have stormed Zeus’ Godly realm and confiscated his throne. Armed with an arsenal of lightning bolts and cloaked in the kind of invincibility you can only get from a mountain high, Trinidad Leal, Curt “CC” Christenson, and new guitarist Josh “JT” Todd Smith now seem to hold dominion over all things ROCK; their Southern stoner sound, once drenched in the earthly confines of mud and fuzz, has found a magical, heavenly edge. It’s still every bit the beast Smoke & Mirrors is, but they’ve elevated the power and melody to rocket-fueled levels (and left out the ballads), making Let It Roll as much a supreme n’ sizzling cock rock record as it is a boogie n’ blues truck stop tango drenched in AC/DC, Lynyrd Skynyrd, ZZ Top, and Alabama Thunderpussy influences. I suppose Let It Roll has the potential to piss off anyone not enamored with a polished production, but if deliciously dirty dynamics and majestic riffs are your bag, you’re in for one hell of a treat.
- Jeff Warren