News flash: rock & roll is not dead. Sure, in the 21st century you have to go looking for it, but that doesn't mean it's not out there. Case in point: you're not so likely to hear Javier Escovedo on the radio or see him on TV these days. But if you slap his solo album Kicked Out of Eden onto your stereo (you do still have a stereo, right?), you will hear real-deal rock & roll. Raw, straight-up, no-frills rock & roll, with lots of swagger and just as much guitar. Rock & roll scholars will recall that Javier previously made some righteous rock music with the Zeros and the True Believers (the latter featuring his brother, Alejandro Escovedo). But Kicked Out of Eden demonstrates Javier has been an underutilized resource as a frontman. Here he delivers a handful of tough, rockin' tunes with a punk rock sensibility and a hard rock melodic attack. Javier and Brad Rice lay the right amount of guitars on these tracks, enough to keep things lively without drowning out the tunes. There's some good raunchy slide work on hand, too, and bassist Michael "Cornbread" Traylor and drummer Hector Mu?oz drive this band with muscle and style. Escovedo also has enough range to connect with the Byrds-infused "Just Like All the Rest" and the moody, thoughtful "Drivin' Around." But the album is at its best when Javier and his band kick up some dust, and they sure sound like they're having some good and greasy fun when they do. Javier Escovedo has been writing, singing, and playing vital, heartfelt music since the mid-'70s, and it's clear he isn't stopping anytime soon. If you like to say they don't make real rock & roll records anymore, give Kicked Out of Eden a spin and find out just how wrong you are. ~ Mark Deming
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