It’s a credit both to their credence and the powers of perseverance that, even with an enormous gap of six years between albums and the musical competition that’s come along in the interim, the Barstool Romeos still retain their status as one of East Tennessee’s favorite go-to bands. With their ready combination of honky tonk, classic country, rowdy rock ‘n’ roll and tear-in-your-beer ballads, they’re the ideal outfit for anyone who enjoys hanging by the bar or devoting ample time to the dancefloor. Indeed, with their long awaited new album, “Last Call for Heroes,” they take no prisoners, stirring things up with 11 whiskey-soaked songs that underscore their reputation as rowdy and rambunctious good ole’ boys out to have a good time and share that experience with others.
At first glance, the new album bears a striking physical similarity to “Twisted Steel and Sex Appeal,” the 2012 album that preceded it. Both covers find co-conspirators Mike McGill and Andy Pirkle in less than sobering circumstances, sharing space with a willing damsel that presumably provides their inspiration. And like before, the music is unapologetic, an up-tempo set of original offerings, save for one written by local hero RB Morris. McGill and Pirkle still share duties on rhythm guitar and lead vocals, which more often than not are in lockstep harmony. Mark T. Dunn and Josh Sidman provide the sturdy rhythms on drums and bass, respectively, while local luminaries Tim Lee and JC Haun weigh in on electric guitar, adding further amplitude to a formidable set of songs.
As for the content itself, diehard devotees will find their expectations fulfilled, as they are given an ample fill of edge and exuberance. “Fall From Grace” sounds like a classic rocker circa the ‘60s or ‘70s, with the kind of pervasive power chords that could make the Allman Brothers or Lynyrd Skynyrd blush with envy. Other influences abound as well; the edgy outlaw vibe of “Mean and Green” brings to mind Billy Joe Shaver and Waylon Jennings in all their grit and glory, while “Blood Red Roses” bears the same sense of regret and reflection Gram Parsons was known to extol in his formative years. Morris’ contribution, “Got You This Time,” conveys a steadfast stomp that never slackens, further underscoring the band’s drive and delivery.
Given the fact that the Romeos have shared the stage with such similarly minded, no-nonsense outfits and individuals such as Skynyrd, Blackberry Smoke, Chris Stapleton, Ray Wylie Hubbard and Marty Stuart, the insurgent attitude is hardly surprising. However, as “Last Call for Heroes” indicates so clearly, authenticity is all but assured. Whether singing the praises of meeting and greeting (“There’s Always Hope”), courting favor with the loves of their life (“Hillbilly Queen”) or simply celebrating work as play (“Find a Job”), these heroes aren’t hard to find.