This Atlanta group -- seven years down a rough road of rocking dives and making perfect party records -- always gets caught in the middle. It's too groovy for the punks, too scruffy for the retro rulebook, too girl-ogling for alt-country sensibilities. And luck ain't exactly the Forty-Fives' forte. Umpteen van troubles stalled the tour for this mid-2004 release, which is a shame; because of the played-out garage-rock trend, this band offers the most unapologetic, no-frills fun -- hence, it's one of the best.
High Life High Volume finds the band older but looser, and -- under the trash tutelage of producer Jim Diamond -- now perfectly plopped into summer-backyard-barbecue mode. The best songs ("Bad Reputation," "Superpill," "Junkfood Heaven") make like sons of the Supersuckers. On "Who Do You" and "Stop at Nothing," the Forty-Fives match the organ-pumping '60s soul-shake revival of the Reigning Sound. And this bunch knows just when to take a breather and lay down a ballad ("Too Many Miles") or a lilting country-porch sit ("Bicycle Thief"). Basically, it's all head-bobbing hooks and party-starting jams, which ain't really a shame at all.