By Tom Labinski
Of the four Shinyribs albums, “I Got Your Medicine” comes closest to matching what the band sounds like on stage.
Close, but not quite.
If the sold-out, record-release party at Antone’s on Friday night proved anything, it’s that the full Shinyribs experience cannot be captured on vinyl or plastic.
The band has pumped up the volume — and the attitude– since the addition of the Tijuana TrainWreck Horns (Mark Wilson and Tiger Anaya) and the Shiny Soul Sisters backup singers (Alice Spencer and Sally Allen). And longtime stalwarts Keith Langford (drums), Jeff Brown (bass) and Winfield Cheek (keyboards) remain the bedrock of the band’s blend of soul, rock, swamp-pop and country.
But as always, the focal point is singer, songwriter and guitarist Kevin Russell, aka Mr. Shinryribs. The former co-leader of the Gourds, as anti-slick a band as you’ll ever come across, has been reborn as a showman, large of frame yet deft on his feet, still with the gift of gab and good cheer, a powerhouse voice and infectious melodies.
Older Shinyribs staples such as “Who Built the Moon” and “Sweet Potato” now sound like they were written for an eight-piece outfit, and the new songs such as “Ambulance” and “Hands On Your Hips” sound even more muscular than the studio versions. One of the highlights at Antone’s was “Tub Gut Stomp & Red-Eyed Soul,” a Russell song that has been around for a decade or two but in need of just the right band to bring it to life.
From the “Walt Disney” opener to the “Feelin’ On Yo Booty” encore, a nod to the R. Kelly show a handful of blocks away, the hometown crowd lapped up what the Shinyribs pharmacists have concocted.