A wicked sense of humor is as central to the J. Roddy Walston & The Business’s boogie rock as distorted guitars or arena-sized drums. Even their 2013 album, Essential Tremors–which takes its name from Walston’s actual nervous-system condition–prods a finger at something serious and forces you to crack a smile.
And Walston and his band have left a lot of smiles on fans’ faces over the years. Formed in 2002 in Walston’s Tennessee hometown, the group moved to Baltimore in 2004 but retained its heavy, Southern roots. Walston pounds at his piano like a latter-day Jerry Lee Lewis, and the rest of the band can alternately pummel or swing with an funk-inspired beat. It’s no surprise that the Business has made its reputation on its live shows, touring with like-minded acts the Black Keys and Lucero. The band’s two previous albums served to capture their live intensity in all its gritty glory.
But Essential Tremors comes closest to the Business’s sweaty performances. The album sounds like a long-lost chart-topper from the late-70′s, swinging between unhinged riff-rock and an occasional power ballad. Recorded in tiny Valdosta, Georgia, Essential Tremors is as humid as its birthplace, but the band made sure to add brains to their brawn. Walston claims he likes “writing religious songs for the animal side,” and “Take It As It Comes” hits it on the nose.
Catch J. Roddy Walston & The Business at ACL Fest 2014:
*Friday, Oct 3 – 5:15 p.m., Austin Ventures Stage
*Friday, Oct 10 – 5:15 p.m., Austin Ventures Stage
*Saturday, Oct 11 – 11:30 p.m., Stubb’s (ACL Late Night show)