The Countdown Quartet
Hailing from the same North Carolina town as the Squirrel Nut Zippers (and sharing Zipper Jim Mathus), the Countdown Quartet is all about making the people move-whether the people are Dixieland fans in a snooty club or keg-standers in the smelliest, smokiest college bar. There is nothing pretentious about the band's self-titled debut: Ted Zarras pounds the drums as hard as he can, Tim Smith fills your ears with his big, bossy sax, and former Tonebenders David Wright and Steve Grothman shout the life-is-good lyrics so no one misses the point. "You Left Me Standing" is something James Brown could get behind, and "Kissing on the Couch" is a Bourbon Street take on Jimmy Buffett's "Why Don't We Get Drunk." The nod here is not so much to Satchmo or Lester Young but to any raucous bar band that successfully makes nine-to-fivers forget the rigors of the workplace. This is smash-mouth jazz with an R&B chaser. The good-time Zippers would be proud.