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Our critics' picks in new releases

If you ever saw Dexter Romweber perform, you know that attitude is a big part of his act. In concert, he's never worried about the little things--like worrying if there's the right number of strings on his instrument.

For his latest, Blues that Defy My Soul, Romweber not only stays tight to the melodies but manages to keep all his strings intact through two blistering instrumentals--the Ventures-inspired "Nephretite" and "Nabonga," an all-out aural assault that sounds like he turned the amp up to 11 and used a shovel as a pick.

There's still plenty of attitude, however. "Rockin' Dead Man" finally smashes to a halt when the guitarist tells his lonely guitar man to shut the $#*% up and leave him alone. "Come Back" is a scalding hellbilly screamer that's vintage Dex.

Romweber explores a variety of personas throughout the release, echoing one of his idols, Buddy Holly, complete with hiccup, on "You Broke My Heart." "The 309" is Dexter at his raucous, rockabilly best, sounding like metal midget Glenn Danzig with a sore throat. Romweber channels George Thorogood as Charlton Heston in the imaginary flick The Greatest Rockabilly Story Ever Told on "Man Walks In." There's the Ramones-like "Monster Blues," and "I've Lost My Heart to You" sounds like Biz Markie doing a cross between Jerry Lee Lewis and Charlie Rich.

No matter who he is at the moment, Romweber is always entertaining. He's also deserving of a nod for sticking to his guns for nearly two decades, watching pale imitations of himself get the fame and glory. But as he demonstrates on Blues that Defy My Soul, being too dangerous to be famous obviously has its own rewards.

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