Depending on your age and musical proclivities, the term “Southern rock” likely evokes one of two sounds. There’s the old-school hard-living-hairy-guys model pioneered by the likes of Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Allman Brothers Band, and then there’s the latter-day hard-living-hairy-guys update that finds acts like the Drive-By Truckers and Lucero parsing the music of their forebears while broadening their sound and perspective. Lee Bains III & the Glory Fires contains elements of both, while adding a sharp-edged savagery all their own.
Dereconstructed is the second album from Bains, formerly of the Dexateens, and his personal wrecking crew, and they fling themselves into these 10 songs with roughly the same combustibility as tossing a lighted match into a pile of oily rags. It’s a dirty-sounding album, full of scuzzy red-line guitars and overdriven vocals, but even all that speaker-busting grit doesn’t hide the alluring melodies Bains threads among the mayhem.
He fights his way through a thicket of stinging guitars to preach skepticism toward power on “The Company Man” and advises unplugging from all the devices that ensnare us to go outside and play on the juiced-up shuffle “Burnpiles, Swimming Holes,” which features a squealing dual-guitar break. “The mind is static, but the body’s still able,” Bains sings by way of exhortation.
The band rams the accelerator down on the double-time Stax-style soul raver “The Kudzu and the Concrete” and stakes out unexpected middle ground between hardcore punk and Southern boogie on “Flags!” The boogie stands alone on album closer “Dirt Track,” a tune that emphasizes the groove in the first half, peters out with a throaty shriek from Bains and then revs back up into a fiery coda piled high with guitars while Bains repeats the refrain: “Keep on working/ Keep it on the dirt track.” As if there’s anywhere else you’d want to go.