There was a joyous, feral quality to the Dirty Guv’nahs earliest recordings and live shows, owing in no small part to then-neophyte lead singer James Trimble’s unrestrained stage romps and his glorious infatuation with the incendiary power of his newly discovered vocal abilities. The rest of the band has come a long way since then, and Trimble has done a great deal toward taming the tiger in his throat, letting it roar loudest in moments of climax rather than reign unchecked. The result is perhaps less purely unrestrained than the early Guv’nahs, but it makes up for any loss in sheer power with a heightened sense of song, texture, and dynamics that weren’t there before. The band has also added Cozmo Holloway, a virtuosic rocker whose famously wild guitar leads can match Trimble’s most histrionic vocals pitch for frenetic pitch in terms of power and intensity.
The Guv’nahs showed just how much they’ve grown in 2010 with the release of Youth Is In Our Blood, their second full-length CD, an effort recorded at the end of 2009 in the Woodstock, N.Y.-based barn studio of former Band drummer Levon Helm—an appropriate venue, since the Guvs’ sound, by the members’ own admission, owes a great debt to the Band’s ragged rural groove, channeled through the scrappy, cocksure electric R&B of the early Rolling Stones. It’s a winning sound, and it’s hard to imagine anyone plying it better than these six lads from Knoxville, Tenn. (See Also: Best Rock Band)
Runners Up: the Black Cadillacs, the Black Lillies, Royal Bangs