Diamond Rugs - Cosmetics (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Diamond Rugs

Cosmetics (2015)


John McCauley likes to party. The new Diamond Rugs' album proves that.

Cosmetics, the follow up to 2012’s self-titled debut, is the work of friends coming together to record musical camaraderie. It also happens to be the sophomore release from a pretty powerful supergroup. No matter how you feel about the term, it’s hard to deny here: McCauley is joined by his Deer Tick band mate Robbie Crowell, ex Black Lip Ian Saint Pé, Dead Confederate’s T. Hardy Morris, Los Lobos’ Steve Berlin and Six Finger Satellite’s Bryan Dufresne.

The album opens with a laugh and that sets the tone for the whole experience. In the vein of Drive-By Truckers, The Hold Steady or Lucero, Diamond Rugs is best enjoyed with a cold beer in hand and nowhere to go. It’s a quick album of jangly, sloppy, rock and roll, a sound that's unfortunately too rare these days.

The music on Cosmetics is sharp and to the point. Frills are unnecessary. Every riff keeps the songs beefy and the times, good. In a group of extremely talented gentleman, Berlin’s sax in the MVP. A seasoned veteran, Berlin has a grip on the small nuances that a sax can add to tunes like these and his knowledge is put good use. Look for further than “Thunk" for proof.

Lyrically, Cosmetics comes from the same vein as Deer Tick's 2013 album Negativity, still dealing with personal struggles that a bender can’t fix. There’s plenty of introspection and desire to be better. Self imposed broken hearts run rampant. But the “I’m sorry’s” come with a certain element of “that’s just the way it is.” Lyrical shrugs, if you will. “I’m going through the emotions with you,” from “Thunk.” “I couldn’t help it baby if you said goodbye,” from “Couldn’t Help It.” “The bad part’s over now. I had to kill it. But we don’t mind the smell of blood,” from “Ain’t Religion.” These are all small internal battles that are never going to win the mental war.

There’s no rush to Cosmetics. There’s no pretention. Just a bunch of guys letting music happen naturally. Bar band rockers with a little more foresight into the next day. But, tomorrow's reality is never a reason to end tonight’s party.