All Rattle And Dust - Stiletto, Stiletto (Cover Artwork)

All Rattle And Dust

Stiletto, Stiletto (2004)

XOXO Records

All Rattle And Dust is the name given to the project masterminded by one Ben Driscoll, a young guy from Iowa who sounds old for his age, and might just be something special. Taking cues from Social Distortion, Tom Waits, and the Violent Femmes (among others), this EP reveals Driscoll to be a budding master at writing warm, tuneful Rock songs. The combination of his slightly raspy voice and the often jangling guitars is incredibly inviting – kind of like those old Bruce Springsteen jams that make you feel like you're being showered in an honest, protective anthem. If you're into that sort of thing.

Of course, there's no shortage of singer-songwriters coming from the Punk community these days, with everyone from Chris Carabba (Dashboard Confessional) to Tom Gabel (Against Me!) turning their boy-and-his-guitar acts into band-and-their-leader rock extravaganzas. But with a distinct grit and an overwhelmingly evident desire to be soulful and real, All Rattle And Dust have released a debut that is nonetheless compelling, fun, and infectious.

Stiletto, Stiletto demonstrates a wide range of expression, revealing Driscoll's potential for real depth. And although it's just got 6 songs, this EP feels very complete - All Rattle And Dust does a good job of balancing the raw emotion of roots-oriented Rock and Roll with the pop sensibilities needed to make a hit. And although the production often feels thin and undeveloped, it almost works in the band's favor by proving that they don't need super hi-fi to show what they can do.

Overall, Stiletto, Stiletto is a keeper, and possibly a preview of great things to come. If fans can overlook the somewhat amateurish production (and packaging), they might just discover their new favorite band. And let's hear it for a new Rock release that not only has reverence for the genre's roots, but also has nothing to do with technical mosh metal, mainstreamo, or whatever other Punk-by-numbers trend is currently popular.