ALTHOUGH the rock 'n' roll of both the Tail Gators and Charlie Pickett is often called "swampy," the connotations are quite different. In the case of Pickett, the adjective refers to the dark mystique of the Deep South and the eerie sound of the Delta blues, both of which grant Pickett's music a fierce, haunted quality. For good-timing rock 'n' roll classicists like the Tail Gators, "swampy" means the warm and relaxed feel of Gulf Coast rhythm and blues and folk music.
Even as Pickett's "Route 33" convincingly recalls the raw and hopped-up blues-rock of the Rolling Stones and Flamin' Groovies, his original songs evoke the poor and rural South with first-hand, cinematic potency.
In songs like "Phantom Train" and "All Love All Gone," Pickett delivers his lyrics in a flat, insolent drawl while guitars snap and howl around the beat like a pack of angry dogs. If the feel here is mostly lowdown and nasty, some of Pickett's songs -- especially "Remember Every Moment" and an elegant instrumental, "Seka's Wedding" -- transcend the raunch and are achingly pretty.
The Tail Gators' new three-song EP, "Rock 'n' Roll Till the Cows Come Home," proves how satisfying a fast shuffle, a grinding boogie and a tough Bo Diddley rhythm can be when played right. This Austin trio builds a rhythm foundation so sturdy you could construct a house on it, and then lets Don Leady's fat guitar licks take over.
Whether it's Arthur Smith's seminal "Guitar Boogie Shuffle" or an obscure rockabilly tune, "Diggin' and Datin'," Leady knows how to play a little country, a little blues, a little jazz and a lot of rock 'n' roll without ever sounding busy.
THE TAIL GATORS -- "Rock 'n' Roll Till the Cows Come Home" (Wrestler WREP786); appearing at the Roxy Friday night.
CHARLIE PICKETT -- "Route 33" (Twin Tone TTR8665); appearing with Rank And File at the 9:30 Club Sunday night.