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American Gun, Sol Driven Train
American Gun - the 2011 version


At 11 p.m. Saturday, June 18

The Jinx, 127 W. Congress St.

There aren't too many bands around any more who create exhilarating, punchy, three-and-a-half minute songs with crunchy guitar chords and catchy melodies. Too often, there's excess baggage.

American Gun (straight outta Columbia) comes right from that school - the tunes bring Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers immediately to mind, and the Black Crowes - both postmodern bands that owe a great debt to the Rolling Stones, who mastered and perfected this sort of in-and-out rock ‘n' roll jab eons ago. It's the sort of thing you either do well, or you transparently suck at.

American Gun is the real thing.

Lead singer Todd Mathis (taking the reins after the recent departure of band co-founder Donald Merckle) wrote 99 percent of the material on Therapy, the newly-minted fourth American Gun album, and he sings it in a nasal sneer, Petty doing Dylan with a little Van Morrison soul, Chris Robinson belt and Joey Ramone attitude.

Recorded with Paul Bodamer and Mitch Easter at the latter's Fidelitorium Studio, Therapy is a quantum leap from the Merckle-era combo, which leaned heavily on alt-country, hard-drinking twang rock ‘n' roll. And, frankly, this new Gun is a hell of a lot more fun. See


At 9 p.m. Friday, June 17

Live Wire Music Hall, 307 W. River St.

It's always a pleasure when Charleston's favorite funksters make a southward swing. The Sol brothers recently celebrated 10 years together by recording Watermelon, a "summer EP" of its trademark posi-groove, sinewy guitar-based, uptempo reggae-tinged rock. With snaky boogaloo horns!

The five-track Watermelon will be released on July 4 - an independent record for Independence Day - and the venerable Lowcountry jam band is already a few sessions into recording its next full-length album. Meanwhile, 2010's Believe was named Album of the Year by the Home Grown Music Network. See