Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats

A friend of mine clued me in to this band via Facebook. My first exposure was a video of their performance on The Tonight Show. What I saw was a guy who must have been channeling Joe Cocker, backed by an absolutely huge band. OK, the band wasn’t that huge, but they sounded that huge! Along with the Cocker vibe, there were hints of Johnny Cash and the music from O Brother, Where Are Thou?  The song, “S.O.B”, a gospel-styled blues number, is an unabashed account of what it’s like to deal with alcoholism.

The whole self-titled album feels like it was recorded in the early ’70s. People into Creedence, Bob Seger, or John Belushi’s version of The Blues Brothers will love this. Maybe I should translate that for the younger people: If you’re into Alabama Shakes, Ben Howard, or Mumford and Sons… but not too much emphasis on Mumford and Sons, OK? It’s even mastered to sound like it was made in the early ’70s.

Starting with “I Need Never Get Old”, I automatically feel like I’m a little kid riding in my uncle’s car, listening to WLS radio. I’m sitting in front without a seat belt because kids always rode shotgun in those days. “Howling at Nothing”, “Trying So Hard Not to Know”, and “I’ve Been Failing” keep the feeling going. Evel Knievel is one of my heroes, Bea Arthur is “Maude”, Sonny and Cher are still a thing, and I love drawing cars with ridiculously-sized motors jumping over volcanoes.

“Wasting Time” is the shift in pace. This one feels like kicking back in lounge chairs at a barbecue after a few too many beers. Half the people have left and the people still here are the comfortable type. The song is less gospel blues and more folk meets Fogarty. Apart from “I’d Be Waiting”, another slower song, the rest of the album keeps up the WLS Radio feeling.

There’s not a weak track on the album. I’ll be looking for this one on vinyl very soon. Wait. Strike that… I just ordered it on Amazon.

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats: