Raleigh's Patty Hurst Shifter traffic in spacious, old-fashioned guitar anthems. You just know, though, that they're going to be escorted to alt.countryville because, face it, that's where traffickers in spacious, old-fashioned guitar anthems live these days--think True Believers alumni Alejandro Escovedo and Jon Dee Graham. Also contributing to this impending address is a certain rugged ruralness projected by frontman Chris Smith via his old-soul voice and booze-hounded ("And I say damn Kentucky bourbon/All the whiskey in Tennessee"), occasionally snarling ("You're just another white trash, white powder story I tell sometimes") lyrics. The album also features a Who's Who roster of guests from other local alt-country outfits (defunct and functioning), such as The Carbines, Tres Chicas, Six String Drag, The Backsliders and Whiskeytown.Like Escovedo and Graham--not to mention local stalwart Chip Robinson, a member of that aforementioned Beestinger Lullebies guest list--Smith writes songs that connect, whether they're pared down for solo delivery or jacked up by his Shifter mates, drummer Johnny Williams and guitarist/brother Marc Smith (the latter also of the similar but more pop leaning 34 Satellite). It's easy to imagine a track like the slow-burning "Higher Ground" either hushing a room or summoning tension-releasing hollers, depending on the setting.
Elsewhere, "Princess Radio," the riffy, galloping song from which the album's name is taken, has a sound and title ripe for airplay. But, of course, any hopes of hearing it will take you to the far-left end of the dial. "Say it like you mean it/Like you mean it, baby," begs Chris Smith mid-album. In the final reckoning, categories and review bites be damned. The guys in Patty Hurst Shifter play it like they mean it.