From No Depression #7, January-February, 1997
Reprinted with permission from No Depression Copyright (c) 1997 No Depression.
The Waco Brothers say they’re the world’s most extreme hard country band. Who are we to argue?
by Linda Ray
“When it started, the whole purpose of this band was to get beer and money,” Waco Brothers ringleader Jon Langford says of the band’s $50-a-gig beginnings a couple years ago. In the bargain, club owners in the band’s hometown of Chicago got not only Langford, co-founder of underground British legends the Mekons, but also Jesus Jones bassist Alan Doughty and Poi Dog Pondering drummer Steve Goulding, late of the Graham Parker band and an alumnus of the Gang of Four.
“It was not until Nan said, ‘Make an album,’ which we thought was such a ridiculous prospect to just do a lot of really horrible cover versions, that we thought we’d better try and write some songs,” Langford continued. “Then the band sort of really turned into a band.”
“Nan” is Nan Warshaw of Bloodshot Records, whose 1994 compilation For A Life Of Sin served as a rallying-cry introduction to the insurgent-country community that had begun to coalesce in Chicago. A pre-Waco Brothers project, the disc included a track from Langford credited to “Jon Langford’s Hillbilly Lovechild”, and also sported his painting “Deck Of Cards” on its front cover.
“It’s important to note how magnanimous Jon has been to us,” says Eric Babcock, who co-founded Bloodshot with Warshaw. “He invited me over, offered me beer and then let me choose from his paintings what we wanted for the cover [of For a Life of Sin]. The Waco Brothers wouldn’t exist if the label hadn’t suggested an album, but the label wouldn’t exist if Jon Langford hadn’t lent his credibility.”
According to Babcock and Warshaw, this influence even extends to how Bloodshot’s business is organized. “Jon’s approach with the Mekons helped us realize possibilities in the different ways he looked at a band’s structure,” Babcock says of the famously collaborative punk icons who have miraculously survived 20 years of hard drinking and harder-held leftist principles.
Those Mekon politics carry over into Langford’s country-flavored incarnation as well. Rob Miller, the third partner of the Bloodshot triumvirate, just comes right out with it: “The Waco Brothers are fucking Limey socialists.” This summation of the band’s world view nicely illustrates a distinction between the character of Bloodshot’s country-punk stable and that of their counterparts in the alternative-country world.
As if to underscore Miller’s point, Langford bellows good-naturedly from the stage of the Lounge Ax: “Yeah, we like your milk and honey! We’ll take your milk and honey and spit it right back at you!” Langford has just been holding forth on the subject of capital punishment: “In Europe, we all think you’re barbaric!” Capital punishment is the focus of this night’s fund-raising concert, one of many the Wacos perform over the course of a year to support a wide range of progressive causes. The band then rips into “25 Minutes to Go” in a manner to raise the dead.
But Langford doesn’t need a forum tailored to a point of view to launch one. Earlier in the month at the Beat Kitchen, an exuberant burst of stagecraft put him in mind of another. Concluding a cover of “Baba O’Riley”, the Wacos took turns in the air, solo and in twos and threes. “Yes, we leap,” Jon Langford ranted in red-faced good cheer. “We’re not like you Americans who have to pay for your own health care if you fall down. We’re from Leeds and we leap.”
* * *
Those raucous Wacos pass through rooms with the energy of an 18-wheeler sporting polished chrome exhaust pipes and a major attitude. They’re pissed off about the human condition: the numbing dehumanization of common labor, the corrupting influence of wealth and fame, the hypocrisy of religion, and the perennial power of plain vice. Indeed, the anger in almost any Waco Brothers song could fuel that truck from Natchez to Poughkeepsie.
So how did it get to Chicago? Mostly for love. Three of the four real Brits married Chicago women. The fourth, mandolinist Tracy Dear, insists he came here to escape a woman. It’s Dear who sets the girls’ hearts palpitating when he removes his shirt mid-set to reveal a well-shaped muscle-T. And it’s Dear who sings the infectious, crowd-pleasing “Do As I Say, Don’t Do As I Do”, the emancipation proclamation of a love interest as seen from the flipside, the point of view of the aggrieved lout.
“Do As I SayŠ” is just one of 14 catchy ideological bottle-bombs delivered by the Waco Brothers for your dancing and drinking pleasure on their new Cowboy in Flames, a just-under-50-minute hard-country collection recorded at Chicago’s King Size Sound Labs. It’s Dear who seems to hold the band’s only romantic view of cowboys and the old west.
“I think people like Guy Clark, just by their philosophy and their songwriting - he’s an unbent man, very true to his word. It’s not about dressing up in a hat and all that. I think this is where it taps into the whole punk thing. It’s about morals, beliefs. We’re just trying to tap into the emotion of it.”
Such sincerity is met with hearty derision from his bandmates. “Whatever he said, it’s wrong,” they chide, howling. “Forget about it.”
“The cowboy is just sort of this weird figure,” Langford says. “It’s been used by a lot of people to represent the situation here [in America]. If somebody comes and does your roof and charges you like 3,000 quid and the roof falls in, they’re cowboys. That’s what a cowboy is in England.”
In fact, the new record’s title track isn’t a metaphor for the defamation of an ideal or even the corruption of country music (that comes in a later track, “The Death of Country Music”), but rather a scathingly suggestive rant on government cover-ups, specifically related to the crash of TWA Flight 800. “It was about what happened when they shot down that plane with an American missile,” Langford says, his voice trailing off in the direction of wistfulness until he catches himself. “They think terrorism comes to America, like the Oklahoma bombing when they were looking for Arabs. It’s like, we’re looking for these white Arabs in cowboy hats.”
Growing up in England, the future Wacos apparently never associated Johnny Cash or Buck Owens or Merle Haggard with either country music or the American West. “It’s white man’s urban blues,” Langford says. “It’s just raw music, honky tonk. Merle Haggard never was on a horse.”
Tracy Dear recalls that Cash was a favorite of his father, a member of the roughneck Irish folk Dubliners from whose groundwork grew the Pogues. “The Dubliners were the tough boys of Irish pub drinking music, and Johnny Cash was one of the tough boys of American music. It was about blue-collar honesty,” he says.
“I remember, in the mid-to-late ’60s, Buck Owens & the Buckaroos,” says Steve Goulding. “When we used to listen to it in England, we weren’t really aware of it being country music. It was just American music. Johnny Cash was like Chuck Berry was like Jerry Lee Lewis.”
Goulding’s considerable range gives the new record a remarkable variety in tempo, from rumba to hand-jive to straight country and honky-tonk to almost arena-scale rock. He deserves much credit for the fact that it never really matters whether you understand what a Waco Brothers song is about. Steel player Mark Durante says, to the nodding agreement of his Brothers, “Steve is the best guy in the band.”
Durante, on the other hand, is breaking new ground on steel. His interest in country music derives from youthful devotion to the ersatz weekly WLS Barndance television show in Chicago, where he grew up. Never mind that he toured with hard-rock bands on his way back to it, among other things as guitar tech for Ministry on the Lollapalooza tour and in a later stint with KMFDM. His interest in steel encompasses its history as well as current practice, which he keeps up with through active membership in both the steel players’ and Hawaiian guitar players’ national associations. His efforts to insinuate real twang into the Wacos’ trademark blasting, churning, country-hearted punk deliver mixed, if usually interesting, results.
Durante’s playing is just plain poetic on the gorgeous “Dry Land”, one of only two songs on Cowboy in Flames that have no apparent political message beyond an interpersonal one (the other being Johnny Cash’s “Big River”). “Dry Land” is an intimate account of that universal, if subtle, feeling when an end may be in sight to your sense of being at sea. You know the one - it’s the unease you feel when there’s something going on with the other party in your relationship (and whatever it is, it doesn’t include you), followed by the mixed sense of foreboding and relief you feel when it might soon be resolved, one way or another.
On “Dry Land”, rather than yield its churning intensity, the band channels it into the rhythmic surge-and-clap of a disturbed sea, with the vocals and the steel guitar gentling over the changes. While the Wacos are pretty consistent about crediting the entire group for everything, they freely credit “Dry Land” to guitarist Dean “Deano” Schlabowske, who also sings it, and to a man they are unembarrassed about acknowledging that it’s a beautiful song.
Schlabowske, one of two native Chicagoans (along with Durante) counterbalancing the band’s four Brits, came to the Waco Brothers from a guitar noise outfit called Wreck. “We were sitting around our bass player’s loft and I was playing Curse of the Mekons. I liked the production on it and I was telling him we ought to find Jon Langford to produce our record. A guy who was hanging around there developing pictures just kind of shouted over, ‘Well, he’s spinning disks at Crash Palace [a punk hipster hangout] tonight.’”
In addition to “Dry Land”, Schlabowske also cops to two other standouts on Cowboy in Flames: “Out There a Ways”, about what he calls “the bizarre effects” of celebrity, with Michael Jackson as a metaphor; and “Fast Train Down”, the most traditional-country-sounding song on the record. The latter gives voice to the despair and alienation of a man stuck in a dehumanizing job, knowing that even his dream of escaping it is an illusion fostered by those who would profit from it. “‘The boxes go in and the boxes go out,’” Langford muses, quoting a line from the song. “It’s what I like about country music - the politics of that. It’s like a Merle Haggard song.”
“I can’t claim to have ever listened to much country on the radio growing up in the Midwest,” says Schlabowske, the one Waco whose voice occasionally, and convincingly, opens a country crack as wide as the interstate. “For me the initial figure was Hank Williams. For some reason, all the people who were into punk rock were into Hank Williams. It makes a certain amount of sense because they’re both real raw, simple. The themes stem from the frustrations of everyday life in the working class.”
The Cowboy in Flames track “Take Me to the Fires” concludes with an outright subversion of Hank’s classic line “I Saw the Light”, going completely over the top with hand-clapping, soul-stirring, old-time gospel call-and-response. Tracy Dear makes the fires of hell sound at least inviting as the wake enjoyed by the survivors, with the best booze and the loudest damned band you ever danced to.
Similarly, in the record’s rendering of the Dorsey Dixon classic “Wreck on the Highway”, it’s impossible to tell if Langford is angrier about drunk driving or religious hypocrisy. Throughout the song, Goulding’s drumming sustains the level of intensity at which U2’s Larry Mullen Jr. climaxed “Hawkmoon 269″, mimicking the heart-pounding shock of coming upon broken bodies dying, faithless, their blood mixed with traces of their booze in glass smashed by the impact. Langford’s delivery implies a dare: Who would save them?
In such classics as this, as well as “Big River” and “White Lightnin’”, the significant, if unorthodox, contribution of Alan Doughty’s bass is clearest. The Wacos’ first record, To The Last Dead Cowboy, featured the Bottle Rockets’ Tom Ray on bass. By his third or fourth gig with the Waco Brothers last year, on the Beat Kitchen’s roomy stage, Doughty was still bumping into his bandmates. There was not yet quite space for his lurching, roving, altogether alarming stage presence.
Within just a couple of months, though, Doughty showed the stuff of which he was made when Goulding missed the first set of a gig at Schubas Tavern. The famously hard-and-fast Wacos played percussion-free and, apart from the impossibly syncopated “Honky Tonkin’”, held together. Langford allowed that the mellowness suited his mood; Schlabowske quipped, “These kids today, they don’t want to hear all that racket.”
An Alan Doughty bassline does handsprings and loop-the-loops where a proper one would thump along the bottom with some discipline. “It’s all nervous energy,” Doughty explains. “I really have no idea where I’m going next with something. I don’t know anything about theory. It’s all new to me every time I play.” Doughty continues to work with Jesus Jones, which will release a new album in March. “It’s been four years and two months since the last one, so this almost qualifies as a comeback record,” he says.
Long a favorite with hard-drinking country music lovers, “White Lightnin’” takes on new meaning performed by a band that took its name from an inflammatory incident involving “G-men, T-men, Revenuers, too.” The theme of government malfeasance runs throughout the Wacos’ work, particularly in songs Langford sings. Besides the title track, Cowboy in Flames features Langford on two songs with obvious messages related to government and big business: “See Willy Fly By”, which touches on several topics related to the “us vs. them” paranoia of government leaders; and “Dollar Dress”, which treats the general bankruptcy of the American Dream.
* * *
One Tuesday night in October, a basement stage in Wicker Park morphed into something like a private living room where songwriters and guitar pickers supported, then lifted, polished and outshone each other’s music. In chiaroscuro just at the edge of the theatrical lighting onstage, Langford hunched thoughtfully in black over his white guitar. He picked out delicate, mandolin-like fills for Chris Mills’ cover of a Hank Williams tune. Langford had just finished his turn, with former Texas Rubies singer Jane Baxter Miller providing harmony on his own “Half Past Drinks at Half Price 8″, a song he claims was vetoed democratically by the Waco Brothers for their new album. The song is all about counting and includes the line, “At last count there’s nothing I want at all.” The repose of an angry man.
Mills, a much-buzzed-about Chicago songwriter who just turned 21, is one of the many younger musicians, including Schlabowske and the Handsome Family’s Brett Sparks, who have benefited from Langford’s mentoring. “A lot of musicians around town think of Jon like sort of a nurturing father, like a really cool dad,” says Julia Adams, co-owner of Chicago’s legendary Lounge Ax nightclub. “Jon and Susan [Miller, her Lounge Ax partner] and I have a camaraderie because we’re sort of the old people in the business [age 39, she says]. But we all can still rock!”
If Langford’s age has anything to do with anything other than inspiring young musicians, it at least doesn’t seem to slow him down. He continues working with the Mekons, most recently on a collaborative show, Mekons United, involving an art exhibition and combination show catalog/essay collection, with accompanying CD. He also has side projects with Doughty and Goulding, among others.
While not without ambition - “We have set out to be the most extreme hard country band,” he says, with competition barely in view - Langford and the Wacos have discovered the value of enough. “If you set out to make things bigger and bigger,” he says, “you never actually get to the point where you can say, ‘This is quite a good size to be.’
“Before the last 100 years, music was a lot of people sitting around playing in a lot of bars. Your favorite band was the band that was playin’ in your little tavern or whatever on a Friday night. That’s kind of what it is for us. I think there’s no reason why it has to be any bigger than this if it works successfully. We’re at a point where we sell enough records to make the next one. I don’t care if we sell more. It doesn’t mean anything to me.”
Linda Ray is a regular contributor to No Depression and midwife of The Original Alt. Country Community (Whatever That Is) Cookbook.
Go to the top
By Bill Sacks
Waco drawingThey are an unlikely group of suspects, these six; three Englishmen, one Irish, one Minnesotan and one from Chicago, all living there now, the majority of whom have come to an understanding of what it might mean to “play country” well into their musical lives.
They insist that their collective work as the Waco Brothers began as a cover-band lark, as a way to pay for weekend nights out at the bar, and that they will continue to work in the tradition only so long as it remains their pleasure.
But it becomes increasingly clear, when each man discusses his own musical past and present ambitions, that it is their sense of the ethical bedrocks of country music, duly separated from the machinery of the Nashville and Bakersfield studio systems, which makes the full seriousness of their recent efforts plain to anyone willing to listen.
What the provisional investments of their two Bloodshot recordings (1995’s “…To The Last Dead Cowboy” and the newly released “Cowboy In Flames”), and their spate of live gigs (most of which have been played around their home base of Chicago) reveal is that they are dedicated to the prospect of bringing a liberating topicality to a style routinely experiencimg near-suffocation at the hands of its memorializers.
On the evening of Thursday, February 20, the streets of downtown St. Louis are glazed with rain. The loft above The Side Door, which functions as a make-shift dressing room with ramshackle couches and rubber tarps for walls, is thick with steam-heat and the smell of beer, and Jon Langford, the Waco’s guitarist and head piss-taker, has something on his mind.
“Would you mind telling me why the f— Hank Williams doesn’t get played on American radio? I’m talking about full-powered FM radio here, not some late-night signal from out of someone’s basement. Is there something wrong with Hank Williams? Is he not pretty enough?”
This, from a songwriter who imagines his band as ruddy cannibalizers of traditional country’s musical corpus.
Langford has spent the past 20 years in an uneasy relationship with popular music’s recent past, first as a founding member of the British agit-punk collective known as the Mekons, then with the equally thorny Three Johns and back to a rebuilt Mekons in the mid-’80’s where he first vested his interest in country music on record.
Jonboy When Langford talks about the possibilities he envisions for the Wacos, he speaks in terms of historical focus and a reckoning with the misplaced spirit of country’s early innovators.
He ventures this answer to his own question: “I think that people take to the idea of liking Hank Williams, of caring about music which they’ve been told has some grand historical importance, but there seems to be a well-conditioned aversion in this country to listening to someone who lays out unsentimental, naked feeling the way he did. If there’s one thing that all the members of this band agree on, it’s that the songs we write and the way we play should be in the spirit of a Hank Williams or Bob Wills - do American kids know that Bob Wills was making rock & roll music on the Texas honky tonk circuit in 1928?- in that we’re going to damned well be raw about it.”
That rawness translates itself on stage into performances marked by wry confrontational moments, when songs like “Dollar Dress” and “Plenty Tough - Union Made” pointedly address a mainstream culture which denies the complexity of work-a-day existence, often smothering it with panderances to knee-jerk nationalism.
The Wacos insist on something more intensely personal, more politically complicated; their work speaks in voices which that mainstream seems dead set on drowning out.
“It’s important for me to have a sense of history behind my work these days, to know that there is this whole genre of music which, at its best, made room for people who didn’t flinch from hard subjects and weren’t afraid to be self-effacing, either. I mean, there are kids out there making techno records or whatever, who think the way I did when I was just starting out with the Mekons - that what they’re doing has no antecedents, that this is their ‘year zero’ and they’re making everything up as they go along.”
“And a certain amount of that is healthy - it keeps you from feeling that some subject is taboo when it shouldn’t be, or that you’ll be shat on if you take musical risks - but it’s also an illusion. Right now, or at least since (Bloodshot Records founder) Nan Warshaw talked us into making a full-length record and we wrote our first originals, that it’s not an illusion I need in order to contribute something fresh. As long as we can continue to find pieces of the country music past which make sense to us and what we want to do as a group, we’ll continue.”
Dean Schlabowske, who shares guitar and vocal duties with Langford and comes to the Wacos after several years of leading the caustic post-punk group Wreck, explains the cultural logic of the recent country turn:
“When I first started playing, I hung around with people who always seemed to have a Hank Williams or Johnny Cash record tucked in with their punk and new wave records. There were plenty of people (around Minnesota and Wisconsin) who saw country music as the antithesis of punk, who saw things in terms of regional identities instead of taking the musicians on their own terms. The people whom I played in bands with who cared about Hank Williams heard the anxiety in his songs and recognized some part of it in themselves, and, of course, there was his self-destructive streak…”
“I’ve really liked exploring the margins of country music because it’s made me open up as a writer; my old band was all about hard-edged aggression, and now I’m able to approach new songs with different levels of intensity.”
A fine example of his new found touch is “Dry Land,” a song Schlabowske sings about romantic alienation which brings out the subtleties in the Wacos’ musical interaction without compromising their ultimate strengths: boozy harmony, a strong rhythmic core (thanks in large part to drummer extraordinaire Steve Goulding - formerly with Graham Parker’s The Rumour and “our ringer,” Langford says) and a dedication to the realities of the blue collar experience.
“Trying to create something which speaks to the most honest music which has come out of Nashville over the past 20 years or so is what this band is all about,” says Tracey Dear, the Wacos’ mandolinist and their most consistently compelling vocal presence.
“When I think about what I’d like to do with this band, I flash back to the best records people like Nanci Griffith and Rosanne Cash have made, and the unaffected personality they put into their work is what I’d like to have us put over. We’re headed off to our first gig in Nashville tomorrow, and there’s nothing I’d rather do than go there and show people a side of country music they’ve never really seen before - if I can take what I know from my background in Irish music and add that to all the different revisions of country that Jon and Steve in particular have been working on for years now, I think we can pull it off.”
The proof is in the shows the Waco Brothers put on: later that night, with Langford roaring hysterically from his beer, each of the band’s lead voices steps forward to put out a series of impassioned pleas on behalf of a musical legacy that unconditionally demands an inventive subversion of banality and hopelessness.
As they blast their way through a version of “Wreck On The Highway” which replaces the Dorsey Dixon original’s sanctimonious tone with seething rage, they shows themselves as a group for whom the commitment to giving the music back its bad conscience is a deep-seeded conviction.
They offer up to the tradition the promise of attracting a new audience drawn to that conscience as an antidote to Music City cliches, in which there might lurk new voices whose own emotional rawness explodes expectations in precisely the way Wills, Williams and Cash once did. Jeffrey B. Remz, Editor & Publisher
Waco Brothers prove more punk than countryTT the Bears, Cambridge, Mass., Feb. 8, 1997
By Jeffrey B. Remz
CAMBRIDGE, MASS. - The final song of the Waco Brothers new disc, “Cowboy in Flames,” is appropriately enough entitled “Death of Country Music.”
The Chicago-based band, comprised of band members who gained fame, but not necessarily fortune with other bands, sings in the opening song that the death “rattles around the planet…where the dance floor’s overcrowded and the music’s getting louder/People do some breathing/while they’re cheating death.”
Clearly an indictment of the current state of country where the dance floor craze neglected the pillars of country like Jones and Cash, who are cited in the song as well. No wonder the Wacos were all dressed in black.
Whether The Wacos are the successors to the mantle of Jones and Cash may be debatable, but they did prove before 200 plus they may be more the successors to the mantle of another Jones - Mick - and his former seminal punk band, The Clash.
The band’s one-hour set proved to be far more punk than country, although the Wacos did show their country leanings towards the end (”Do What I Say” and several covers). The band clearly rocked far harder than they do on either of their two albums.
Not to say that is bad. Far from it because this is a band that seems entirely comfortable in either sector.
Jon Langford of British band, The Mekons, is one of the lead singers along with Dean Schlabowske, who recalls Elvis Costello visually and Jason Ringenberg of Jason & The Scorchers vocally (”Waco Express”). Each acquitted himself well on vocals throughout the evening with Langford’s the rougher hewn. Mandolinist Tracy Dear also turned in a good performance on vocals. Sometimes, however, the vocals were mixed too low.
A few worthy covers - “White Lightning,” also on the new disc, and “I’ve Got a Tiger By the Tail,” penned by Buck Owens and Harlan Howard - were well done.
Like The Clash, the Wacos don’t shy away from politics, something country generally has stayed away from. And while many in country possess conservative values, the Wacos stand squarely on the left. “Plenty Tuff Union Made” is an ode to the power of unions and working folks.
Drummer Stephen Goulding, former member of Graham Parker’s The Rumour, bassist Alan Sprocket, formerly of the British band Jesus Jones (”Right Here, Right Now”), Mark Durante, of KMFDM on pedal steel player all possessed the musical skill to pull off the punk/country combo.
Sprocket acknowledged after the gig he wasn’t much into country prior to being part of the Wacos, but he said he has grown to like it.
Go to the top Following the show, Dear asked if it was country. “Well, no it was more punk,” he was told.
Punk may not really be the future of country music, but if the Wacos adhere more to country, they could be one of the bands spearheading the growth of country as we once knew it, but with a decidedly modern twist.
From: A site with sound
The Waco Brothers are Bloodshot Record’s latest and most high profile fussilade in their self-described “insurgent country” movement. As near as I can tell, insurgent country bears some relation to what used to be known as cowpunk. Most importantly, The Mekons’ Jon Langford (or Johnboy as he prefers to be known in his Waco guise) sings and plays guitar in The Wacos and insures that their second album COWBOY IN FLAMES keeps one foot on Hank Williams Sr.’s grave and the other one on Garth Brooks’ neck.
In fact, much of the album resembles The Mekons’ excellent mid-80’s country-influenced work such as FEAR AND WHISKEY, but with more energy and somewhat greater chops. Langford’s singing and lyrics still have their biting intensity, and fellow Mekon Steve Goulding keeps the drums a-shakin’ with his unerring rhythm and solid swing.
Also singing and playing guitar is ex-Wrecks member Dean Schlabowske, whose voice has an appealing Jaggeresque tone. In stunning heresy, all of these country commandos currently hail from the Chicago area; even more incongrously Moulding, Langford and basssist Alan Doughty are natives of Britain.
It is good to report that one of our end-of-the-millenium phenomena still holds true in this case: side projects can be as good as, and sometimes better than, the main band (hello Varnaline, Folk Implosion, Portastatic, Firewater) COWBOY IN FLAMES starts with one of the Waco Brothers’ best songs, the driving, rollicking “See Willy Fly By”,. “Waco Express” introduces Schlabowske’s appealing twang and features some fine pedal steel by Mark Durante. “Take Me To The Fires” is delivered revival-style and is very similar to The Clash’s “Judgement Day.” “Dollar Dress” , adds some pleasing south-of-the-border flavor, while “Out In The Light” sports a driving Bo Diddley beat. The covers are also a hoot including a red-hot version of Johnny Cash’s “Big River”
The only real downside to COWBOY IN FLAMES is the hard to read track listing on the back cover of the CD and the bassist’s previous life as a member of future trivia-question answer Jesus Jones. For all of you who are sick of explaining the difference between real country and the ersatz Billy Joelisms spouting from Nashville lately, this unlikely mix of pasty Brits and Yankees may be your salvation.
“In a world of overly serious, self-righteous post-modern country-rock dweebs, the Waco Brothers are a blast of fresh air. While other rockers approach country with tip-toe-through-the holy-classics restrain, the Waco Brothers do a shit-kick dance right through the music’s past.” Guitar World
Just when you thought it was safe to like tepid country rock crapola and third-rate, angst-ridden indie posturing again, your comrades at Chicago’s own Bloodshot Records — the nation’s sole purveyors of Insurgent Country music — are here to give you what you really need: a careening three-chord frontal assault, devilishly gleeful “fuck-it-all” delivery, glorious, down-in-flames, beer-logic despair, and a heart of solid coal. Ladies and germs!
Presenting — Do You Think About Me — the new cd from THE WACO BROTHERS.
When we last heard from the Wacos, they were swinging a “Nine Pound Hammer” on Bloodshot’s Straight Outta Boone County compilation in the company of Robbie Fulks, Hazeldine and Holler, to name a few. Now the cheese stands along — witness ten all new-songs that piss on and subsequently blur the lines between punk and country. From the horn-driven album-opening title number (call it “Exile on Waco Street”), to the blitzkrieg cover of Neil Young’s “Revolution Blues” (they ain’t called the Waco Brothers for nothin’), to weaving, whiskey-addled waltzes and swinging, spooky-ass barnburners –Do You Think About Me is guaranteed to rock the union hall. Some of these tracks are spilt-over from the acclaimed To The Last Dead Cowboy and Cowboy in Flames sessions - songs too good to die — and be sure to listen out for our old pal Tom Ray of The Bottle Rockets whomping the double bass on a few songs. All together its 31 minutes of Waco greatness — where country spirit beats the hell out of country form –
Introducing the hardest drinking men in show business:
Jon Langford (Mekons), Steve Goulding (Mekons, Poi Dog, Rumour), Dean Schlabowske (Wreck), Mark Durante (KMFDM, RevCo), Alan Doughty (Jesus Jones), and Tracey Dear (world’s greatest living Englishman).
Do You Think About Me delivers a swift kick in the bread basket to the chickenshit and complacent, and serves as a moral centerpiece for the whole Insurgent Country movement. Keep ahead of the mounting, smoldering wreckage and don’t let the revolution pass you by…
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