Showing posts with label fun. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fun. Show all posts

Monday, December 13, 2021

Fake Country Band Album Reviews ~ Americana Edition



As commercial country veers ever-headlong into a concrete wall, it's no surprise that fans have turned to Americana music for sustenance. What's a better balm for the Strat guitar shredding so commonplace in today's country than the soothing strum and unamplified vocals of Americana?

Americana music hearkens back to a simpler, more depressive time, when nothing was good and when there was always a well-scuffed fiddle or a dented dulcimer propped up bestride the front porch, the better to capture life's stark bleakness.

With that in mind, in this episode I will review a few of the best (or in their words, worst) current Americana releases.

#3 ~ Worn-Out Farmers ~ Plow

Decatur, Arkansas phenoms Worn-Out Farmers burst onto the Americana scene this year with their debut release, "Plow". Sick and tired of cotton-pickin', three local boys, DuWayne Tubb (no relation to Ernest) and brothers Cosgrove and Mosgrove Fritts, gathered nightly at the local tavern to conjure a way out of their tiny township and toward the blinding neon of big city Fayetteville, though they knew the bright lights would never ease their dead-eyed melancholy. Nevertheless, after six Bud Lights Moss found that he could strum three chords on the proprietor's guitar, and DuWayne and Cos were able to approximate two-part harmony. 

"How dang hard can this songwriting be?" DuWayne pondered. "Shoot, that dad-gum Tracy Lawrence made it big. I remember my grandpa playin' his tapes when I was a little tot, when he'd take me in his pickup to the feed store." 

With that touchstone in mind, the three pals set off to make their mark. "Write what you know, boys!" Hank, the tavern's owner admonished them as he slid beer cans down the bar in their direction. 

And so they did.

Their first release, "Plow", gained some traction on local radio. A relatable dirge, Plow resonated with local boys (and girls!) who appreciated the mournful lament for its authenticity. 

Nashville label Walnut Paneling caught wind of the local boys' success and quickly signed them, with the proviso that the group needed to add a brush-snare drummer to round out its sound. Designated leader DuWayne wasn't keen on incorporating "modern" touches, protesting that his "artistic vision" was being compromised, but the inclusion of Marty "Mutt" McNair proved to be the missing piece of the fame puzzle. From that day on, the hits dribbled. 

"Ham Sandwiches Again?" struck a chord with fans who were sick to death of wives slapping together ham and mayo sandwiches on white bread for their noonday field lunch. The line, "at least stick a little lettuce in it" became a clarion call for fans who pumped their fists and shouted it out at the boys' weekend concerts.

Other standout tracks on Plow include the melancholy "I Can't Get Parts For It" and the surprisingly upbeat "Gonna Take A Little Cat Nap". Fans are eagerly anticipating the release of Worn-Out Farmers' sophomore album, "Polled Hereford", due to drop sometime in the spring, around calving season. 


#2 ~ Abandoned Radiators ~ Unfortunate Leakage

The Abandoned Radiators exploded out of nowhere with the release of their first album, "Unfortunate Leakage". The LP burst onto the Americana scene and generated real steam among fans parched for an eruption of authentic, combustible music.

The Radiators first fizzed in clubs around their local Clovis, New Mexico hometown. Co-lead singer Johnny Bobe spent his teenage years picking garbage at the town dump, where he scored a nice porcelain bathroom sink and three wire-wheel hubcaps, among other treasures. The dump is also where he met the love of his life, Cindy Havarti, whose specialty was plucking bourbon-stained, damp jazz albums out of the pungent debris. Johnny took Cindy home to his packed storage shed, where she eyed his collection of discarded auto parts and fell madly in love. Eventually the two began to combine their bounty, gazed up into each other's eyes, and knew they'd found their life's calling. 

Neither of them had ever touched or even seen an acoustic guitar, not to mention a mandolin, but the scepter of Dizzy Gillespie convinced the couple that riches were theirs for the taking. They began collaborating at the Crimson And Clovis Inn on karaoke nights, and the besotted barstool patrons' enthusiastic clapping convinced Johnny and Cindy they had nowhere to go but up ~ to the stratosphere.

After a couple of months, Cindy spied a smashed guitar ~ at least she was pretty sure it was a guitar ~ atop a gaseous heap of smoldering junkyard Pampers and that sealed the deal. Cindy never did actually learn how to play the mysterious instrument, but hours of practice and jamming her fingers against random strings produced an original, otherworldly sound that made strangers at the C&C stop and stare. Desperate local record producer Ruben Rococo caught the duo's act one night when he stopped in for one last sip of liquor before he put an end to it all, and the (albeit) amateurs' act gave him one last straw to grasp onto. And the rest is history.

Ruben added his own on-key accompaniment to the duo's first recordings and slipped the completed disc across the local radio station's transom with a twenty-dollar bill, and voila! 

Purists will quibble about the discordant notes and off-key vocals on Unfortunate Leakage, but New Mexicans erupted with joy upon hearing tracks like "Psssssssstt" and the lament, "Honey, Do You Have Roadside Assistance?" 

AB has a full slate of concerts scheduled for the greater New Mexico area. Rumor has it they're adding a maracas shaker to the lineup.

#1 ~ Bingo Hall Bastards ~ Four Corners

The first time Penny Pinchet drove her grandma to the local bingo hall, she shook her head in disgust. "Gram, how can you spend your Social Security check on this lame time waster?" she asked as she pulled Grandma's walker from the trunk. When Grandma shuffled back to Penny's car later that evening with three hundred smackeroos clutched in her gnarled fist, Penny had second thoughts. Thenceforth Beulah, North Dakota's favorite diner waitress was hooked. The clack of the bingo numbers whirling inside their wire basket, the thunk of fifty daubers stamping paper cards in rhythm, the "ahhhs" of blue-haired wanna-be's when some old lady jumped up and shouted "Bingo!" were sweet music to Penny's ears. She even heard heard these reverberations in her dreams ~ on Tuesday and Thursday nights ~ and on early-bird Saturdays.

When Penny's boyfriend Glenn Brokaw started complaining and accusing her of cheating on him, she dragged him along to the bingo parlor. Glenn was a harder sell, but when he won fifty dollars by completing a letter X (thank you, B12!) he had to admit this bingo lark was kind of a rush. 

Before long Penny was ditching her shifts at Ewald's and Glenn starting calling in sick to his Massey Ferguson boss and slipping off to the midday Eat & Feat event, where they munched on nachos and searched the master table for exactly the right combination of cards. At last Grandma had to sit the two of them down. "Kids, I know you really love bingo, but to be honest, you're embarrassing me in front of my friends. Bingo is an old-timer's game. We like having a place to go where you hipsters can't find us. We like a little peace. No offense." 

Penny and Glenn exchanged chagrined glances. Grandma, sensing their unease, suggested, "How about you make a band?"

And that's how Bingo Hall Bastards came to be. Sure, the two of them tried one last time to return to the backlit building, but they found a hand-lettered sign on the door telling them, "Penny and Glenn are prohibited from entering these premises." Grandma had a lot of pull, it seemed.

One August night, still mourning their loss, Glenn picked up his brother Galen's guitar and began lazily strumming. Penny chimed in, emitting a low wail, a desolate cry. Thus, the hit "Blackout" was born. Before long Penny and Glenn found their new obsession. Songs tumbled out, like "Daubing My Heart" and the heart-wrenching "Oh 73".  

They packed up Glenn's Kia Sorrento and headed down the highway to the big city of Fargo, where they met with punk record head Kitty Pau, who figured, what the hell, what've I got to lose? She brought in her nephew Tom to tap a cymbal and before long The Bingo Hall Bastards were the toast of the greater Fargo-Moorhead area. And the rest is history.

Now their liquor lounge concerts are near sellouts, with girl fans sporting black mantillas and men doffing ebony armbands. Americana is nothing if not really, really, really sad. And the band's depressing ditties really spike the bars' alcohol sales.

So, there you have it ~ the top three Americana albums, in this humble critic's opinion, of 2021. Search out Spotify to sample these bands' formidable wares. 

Keep a Kleenex handy.


Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Fake Country Band Album Reviews - Volume 2

It seems my first edition of fake country album reviews has been my most popular blog post in the fourteen years I've been tapping out words, so what the heck? Let's do some more.

Kids, you, too, can do this at home. All you need is a fake country band name generator and a fake album cover generator, all searchable items on The Google Thing (TGT™). You will, however, need to compose your own reviews. 

Herewith are my latest:

Despite Blasphemy Auction - Fuck!

Granted, this band is not for everyone, but DBA is unapologetic. They just don't fucking care. Rising out of the punk music scene of Mandan, North Dakota, Despite Blasphemy Auction flicked off a gang of polka band wannabe's to claw their way to the top of the Anglo-German music syndicate, and they're frankly pissed it took so fucking long. They've got a lot to say, and none of it is pretty. Blasphemy Auction finesses obscenity landmines with filthy genius. 

Buck again on your radio?
She mocked with a cough 
I said, girl, you don't like it
You can go fuck off

Songwriter and bassist Carl Burger Eckroth-Heitkamp spares no one's sensibilities with tracks like "Asshole Loser" and "M*****F***** Cut Me Off!" 

A gem buried deep in DBA's bio reveals that Carl moonlights as a Methodist minister when the band's schedule allows. Perhaps it's that dichotomy that informs the group's authenticity. WTF - it's the music, after all, that effing matters. 

Grade: F+

Certified Supervisor - Kinda Busy Right Now

Lazily climbing the indie charts with their first single, "Can You Come Back Later?" the band Certified Supervisor arbitrarily doles out a pile of tracks as relatable as a partially-completed time card. Lead vocalist Dusty Desktop avoids direct confrontation with subliminal ballads like "I Shouldn't Have To Tell You" and "You're Leaving Already?" Her most unsettling composition, though, is "Will I See You On Saturday?" Absolutely bone-chilling.

A rumor circulated on Twitter a while back that CS only secured a recording contract because Dusty's uncle happens to work for the label, but Connections Records' head Frank Favour harshly rebuked the offending busybodies and subsequently threatened to have them demonetized.

Bottom line, fans had better like this album. And what's not to like? Uptempo rockers, "Extra-Long Lunch" and the attitudinal, "What Now?" guarantee Certified Supervisor's upward trajectory in the indie music realm.

Grade: A++

Drooling Snowflake - Excuse Me?

Who says new country bands don't emerge from San Francisco? Not me! Drooling Snowflake not only inhabits a niche that is quintessential California but it just might have invented its own sub-genre: Peeved Country. Drawing on its Silicon Valley roots, DS is quick to latch onto the latest cause du jour, which may, alas, render the band obsolete in mere weeks and requires its primary scribe, Jamey Raage (he/him) to furiously scribble out tunes that hopefully won't be passe before the band can even record them. 

The California Sound inhabits a special place in country fans' hearts, from Buck to Merle to Dwight to The Eagles; and with this debut Drooling Snowflake strives to secure its place among those legendary greats. Tracks as diverse as "tRumpkin Rubes" and "Walmart, I Can Smell Ya'" evoke the dripping disdain of "Okie From Muskogee", albeit without the fisticuffs and in-your-face bravado. Instead it smacks of furious slap-fights and haughty flounces.

Don't get me wrong; Drooling Snowflake is a niche for sure, but not one to be ignored. The band's best track is, to this critic's ears, "January Six Insurrection Blues". Reminiscent of  Merle's "Workin' Man Blues', it takes a completely different tack, one that may best be described as "everybody made my life miserable, so I will just roll up inside this blanket". 

Pity is not a good reason to purchase a CD, granted, but give this one a spin. It only costs nine dollars and ninety-nine cents, and two pennies of each purchase are dedicated to eliminating the environmental scourge of hairbrush tangles, a primary contributor to the horrific demise of Pacific sperm whales.

Grade: B (for Biodegradable)



Friday, May 14, 2021

Bad Band Names


I'm not Saving Country Music's target audience. I check out the site daily, but mostly to find news about artists I'm familiar with. I've honestly tried to get into some of the current acts and the site owner always posts YouTube videos with each article, but in the couple of years I've been browsing the site I've maybe found one unfamiliar artist that merited more than a single listen. Most score a cursory twenty seconds, even when I slide that little red dot a few paces hoping to find the "good part".

Apparently it's not an age thing. Many of the commenters are as old or older than me, but they're still enamored of new music and seem quite knowledgeable about current acts. I know nothing about Florida Georgia Line, but I know that most true country fans hate them, so they must be awful. The more obscure the artist, the more the site's devotees love him or her. Honestly, I think these aficionados are simply making the best of a mediocre music scene. They're grading on a curve.

Scanning the home page of SCM today I found the following bands: 

Flatland Cavalry
The Steel Woods
American Aquarium

These groups might be great. I don't know. But the names could use some spit and polish. 

I thus decided to use a random country band name generator to try to create some buzz for a few new groups I've discovered:


Game Loaf With The Acrid Bowel

One of the most rumbled-about country bands erupting out of Enid, Oklahoma, Game Loaf With The Acrid Bowel literally blew up indie country radio with their very first single, "IBS", a rocking and queasily rolling debut. Some critics have called the track bloated, but that hasn't cramped GLWTAB's momentum. The band continues to belch out hits that punch fans hard in the gut. Fans especially appreciate lead singer and primary scribe Far T. Trotsky's perceptive takes on life's challenges, with songs like Colitis Calling Me Home, Please Don't Divert My Ticulitis, and of course, I Don't Got Milk. It remains to be seen if Game Loaf's fans will continue to view them as a gas, but all signs for now point to a chronic and persistent ache for future releases.


 Jealousy Of Ouch

Jealousy Of Ouch vocalist Jenny Bandade scrapes one's heartstrings with slashing lyrics that leave the listener bloodied and buckled. From her quiver Jenny chooses razor-sharp words that plunge an emotional arrow straight into a cheating man's bloodied heart. Jenny offers no mercy as she jabs deeper and deeper, until the listener is left psychically crippled. Then she salves the wound with reassuring tracks like "Mama Will Make It Better" and "Stop Fucking Crying - It's Not That Bad".  Certainly Jealousy Of Ouch isn't a band for the faint-hearted. But if one likes their music raw and exposed, they should check out the title track, along with standouts such as, "I Didn't Hit You That Hard" and "I'm Gonna Tell Mom You're Just Faking It".

Hose Along Intoxicant


Mississippi has birthed artists as disparate as Elvis Presley and Jimmy Buffett, Charley Pride and Marty Stuart, even blues legend Robert Johnson, but never has it produced a group as debauched as Hose Along Intoxicant. HAI is poised to surpass even the whiskey-fueled roller coaster that is Faith Hill in bawdiness, and its fans are quick to slosh to their nearest record store, drunk on the knowledge that they're sure to find a juiced-up good time.

Along Intoxicant is definitely a party band, albeit one that has a puking pile of regrets the next day. One wonders how long HAI can keep staggering on without some kind of intervention. But for a country fan in the market for some lush party tunes, Hose Along Intoxicant is the answer to a skid row prayer. Tracks like "Just Mix It All Together" and "Listerine Ain't All That Bad" speak a tight truth many hard-core country fans are thirsty for. Lead singer G'Rain Everclear hits the high notes with his blood vessel-popping regurgitation of the band's best late-night compositions. Give HAI a spin on a midnight Saturday and it won't disappoint. You'll find yourself stomping one step outside the beat around your bedroom, but no one will care. Sadly, you'll hate yourself the next day. But that's the price we'll willingly pay for tight indie music.