You may or may not know the name Tyler Keith in some fashion. Perhaps you recognize him from his time as a member of legendary Mississippi garage punks the Neckbones, or maybe it’s from his work with rock and roll devotees Preacher’s Kids, or the gritty country-punk of the Apostles, or even the ramshackle roots-rock of Teardrop City. Either way, you should know the name, as Keith has been releasing fine music for 25 years now.
So it’s no surprise that on his new solo album, ‘The Last Drag‘, he folds all of these sounds into the 10 tracks recorded at Dial Back Studios in Water Valley, Mississippi with Bronson Tew on drums, recording, engineering, and other things, along with a few other friends. Keith has been around and has some stories to tell, and spin the web he does, all over guitar-saturated roots rock and roll. ‘The Last Drag‘ is Keith’s first record for upstart Memphis’ label Black & Wyatt Records and his second solo effort after 2015’s acoustic ‘Alias, Kid Twist‘ and it’s the best kind of record, one with tracks that dig in quickly and a few that grow on you.
The album opens with ‘You Can’t Go Home Again‘ a song that sounds like Jeff Tweedy fronting The Replacements. In fact, that’s a combination that works well on a few tracks like ‘In The Parking Lot‘, and ‘Have You Ever Gone Insane?‘
‘Born Again Virgin‘ rolls along with a Supersuckers spirit and nicely sets up the southern Gothic of the excellent ‘Shame, Lies, and Cruelty‘. ‘Take Me Home‘ channels the exuberance and trash of Johnny Thunders while the title track hearkens back to Keith’s street-smart garage rock days with its 50s inspired hooks. ‘Scarlett Fever‘ is a standout, with a giant sing-along chorus and ‘Down by The…‘ grooves with a Cramps-like strut. The laid-back ‘Beat Temptation‘ sounds like it could slide onto side two of The Compulsive Gamblers’ ‘Bluff City‘.
Tyler Keith is a bit of a Renaissance man, he’s an accomplished photographer, hosts a podcast (RIP IT UP!) and he’s finishing his MFA in Documentary Expression at the University of Mississippi, while working on a documentary about Hill Country Gospel and Blues. Musically you could say he has been underappreciated, but with an output this consistent he at least deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as say Jack Oblivian or Greg Cartwright.