Prior to the release of their first album for Madjack Records in 2001, Lucero recorded a laconic nine-song album on a cassette Portastudio in Brian Venable's attic, which the band released though the local Memphis label Soul Is Cheap. It didn't take long for the album to sell out, and the disc became something of a collector's item until Lucero reissued it in 2006. Fans who dig the Replacements-style rock & roll side of this band will probably find this a little low-key for their tastes -- at the point when The Attic Tapes was recorded, Lucero still had an occasional fiddle player, and these nine tunes creep along with the ambition of a hangover, while the hissy homemade quality of the recording is just a shade distracting in spots. But at the same time, most of the elements of what would make this band memorable were already firmly in place -- the gritty howl of Ben Nichols' voice and the broad spaces of Venable's guitar leads had already defined themselves, and the group's songwriting proudly wore the dusty resonance of life in the South, which speaks strongly on "Diamond State Heartbreak," "Hello Sadness," and "Took the Fall." Listening to The Attic Tapes, you might not have guessed that Lucero would soon mature into a crackerjack rock band, but at this early stage they already had talent and vision to spare, and fans will find this rewarding listening. The 2006 reissue on Liberty & Lament adds three early demos, an early recording of "My Best Girl," and a cover of Jawbreaker's "Kiss the Bottle." ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

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