There’s no simple way to label Longneck Stranglers’ sound. Their grungy, sometimes psychedelic, guitar riffs paired with hard-hitting drums and that good ‘ole southern harmonica yield a rockabilly-roots rock that would be just as at home at a honky tonk as it would in a grimy hole-in-the-wall in downtown Detroit.
Their hodge-podge style is no happy accident but is very likely the product of the boys’ hometown of Hazel Park, Michigan - aptly dubbed “Hazeltucky” because of the several residents, transplants from Kentucky, that brought with them their love for southern music. Pair that with the influence of neighboring Detroit Rock City and you’ve got Longneck Strangler.
As lead singer, Ricky Lentz, explains, “We’re at a crossroads where fans of both rock and country can meet.” Although they frequent the festival scene, at their core Longneck Strangler is the great American bar band.
Their name is, in fact, a euphemism for drinking a beer. A name that became so associated with grabbin’ a cold one that the boys have their own limited edition brew for fans to “strangle.” Give one listen to their upcoming full-length album, Home (release date 12/12/2014), to see how far the boys have come since their first EP, My First Rodeo, in 2007.
Guitarist Rick Browarski, the predominant songwriter of the band, writes his best stuff when pulling from real life, and there’s no doubt this album is shaded by mature themes like family and real love, while keeping just enough of those rambunctious beer-bar tunes the band was founded on.
Lentz’s deep, pure baritone vocals, ooze from the speakers, creamy as velvet, with moments of contradictory gruffness that are only more alluring, like a recently-shaved beard on an otherwise smooth face. The rest of the band, including drummer Jeremy Kanouse and bassist Kevin Davis, form the backbone of the music, delivering gospel-tinged blues, Opry-licious Americana, beer-soaked ballads and everything in between.
“We’re a country band that plays rock and we’re a rock band that plays country,” Browarski said. We’ve always been neither and both.” Longneck Strangler sit comfortably at their crossroads, a genre-spanning group, that can relate to fans on both sides of the tracks. When struggling to define their sound, just call them American music.
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