Chris Duarte: Tailspin Headwhack

Heavy overdrive and a stack of Marshalls…stand back and let this boy rip. Allusions to ZZ Top, Clapton, Ted Nugent, Jimi Hendrix and SRV, meaning the real blues connections are third or fourth hand here. The Austin-based guitar slinger does have frightening chops but there’s a difference between scorching a pentatonic scale and conveying real meaning in 12 bars. His updating of the B.B. King classic “The Thrill Is Gone” rings hollow, for instance. Rather than a painful, heart-wrenching tale of love lost, it comes across as merely a vehicle for chops-grandstanding. The Curtis Knight instrumental “Drivin’ South” is a direct homage to Stevie Ray, by way of Jimi’s “Third Stone From The Sun.” He cops a James Brown groove on the funky title track and turns in a respectably funky ’90s flavored rendition of The Meters’ “People Say.” There’s a roaring Texas blues feel to “Crazy” and a more mysterious, understated quality to “.32 Blues.” But the majority of this dazzling fretboard showcase is strictly in-your-face.