Adding studio sheen to Rambler 454 is like renting a tuxedo for a bar brawl: This hard-rockin' honky-tonk trio is best served raw and greasy. Rambler's latest, the five-track EP Gabe, is the group's most underproduced album yet, a suitably ragged, off-the-cuff recording that sounds as if it were tracked in a garage in one take. As this disc spins, you can damn near smell the motor oil and cheap beer.
And that's the way it should be. Dan McCoy's guitar has never sounded as snarling and mean as it does on "Wanderlust," a rumbling roots rocker tough enough to leave bruises. "The nature of a man is motion," McCoy sings on the tune, one of four songs here about hitting the road. Toss in some nasty harmonica playing, and it all adds up to one high-octane LP -- and possibly a few speeding tickets.