Rhythm & Views

Fourkiller Flats

The Flats are Neal Bonser, Jim Cox, Jimbo Peeken, James Stanley and Bill Green, and according to one of my pals who's seen them play a few times, they're one of the finest roots/alt-country combos to come outta the Old Pueblo in a decade or more. High praise indeed, considering Tucson's storied legacy in that respect.

On this five-song debut (a CD-R with professional packaging), the band slots firmly into said legacy. Commencing with the wonderfully melodic desert-rock-with-mandolin "So Far," FkF then proceeds to essay straight-up, twangin' country-folk (the Burrito Bros.-esque, one-beer-too-many "Cat Song"); gentle autumnal balladry with a bluegrass undercurrent, courtesy of mandolin and bottleneck guitar ("Tip Me Over"); and even low-key, subtly anthemic garage rock ("Way I Went From You," which, with its bristling lead guitar, recalls Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers).

Throughout, the group's keen attention to dynamics and arrangements reveals the presence of seasoned pros in the lineup. Additionally, in Cox, a gruff-throated but tuneful and emotive lead vocalist, the Flats have the requisite frontperson charisma that helps elevate any group's chances in today's confusingly crowded marketplace.

Club owners take heed--these guys will be packing 'em in before you know it.

Catch the Fourkiller Flats at 7 Black Cats, 260 E. Congress St., on Friday, October 20.