Free Deno CD

Deano has made a new cd available for download.

Deano from Waco Brothers: New Songs with Meat Purveyors

First 2011 Tour Dates

January 8, 2010
Dollar Store w/ The Mediums @ The Friendly Tap
Doors-9 p.m.
6733 12th Street
Berwyn, IL 60402
(708) 484-9794

Sunday, 16 January 2011 at 19:30
Skull Orchard Acoustic Show w/ Pinky
Irish American Heritage Center-Chicago, IL

Thursday, 20 January 2011 at 8:30
Waco Brothers
Mayne Stage-Chicago, IL

Friday, 21 January 2011 at 8:30
Waco Brothers
Bands for Bell School Benefit
Martyrs-Chicago, IL

Saturday, 22 January 2011 at 8:30
Waco Brothers
Bar None-Springfield, IL

Saturday, 05 February 2011 at 19:30
Skull Orchard Acoustic Show w/ Pinky
Barnabas Arts House-New Ruperra St Newport NP20 2BB

Sunday 06 February at 20:00
Jon Langford & Jim Elkington (Skull Orchard Acoustic)
Opening for DEAF SCHOOL
Leeds, UK

Wednesday, 09 February 2011 at 21:00
Skull Orchard Acoustic Show w/ Pinky
The Windmill-Brixton, London

Sunday, 20 February 2011 at 20:00
Jon Langford
Philly Beer Bash
North Star Bar-Philadelphia, PA

Saturday, 26 February 2011 at 20:00
Skull Orchard Acoustic Show w/ Pinky
Off Broadway- St Louis, MO

Sept 22: Friendly Tap


from Australia…Chuck’s Wagon with guests Waco Brothers!!!!


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

9:00pm - 21+


Friendly Tap

6733 W. Roosevelt Road

Berwyn, IL, United States 60402

Haiti benefit




Show starts 8pm

Eleventh Dream Day at 8.15pm

Wacos at 9.15pm

$20 admission.  All door proceeds go to Partners in Health (

Christmas time’s a comin

You can listen to Bob Dylan’s new one or you can see the Wacos (as usual). Look at the tour dates, they are forever changin.

There’s a new blog in town!

Welcome to the new Waco Brothers www home. I launched this site just a short while ago - and hope it’s an improvement to the old one which got terribly lousy over the years.

Waco Express: Live and Kicking at Schubas Tavern


  1. Waco Express
  2. Blink of An Eye
  3. Too Sweet to Die
  4. Red Brick Wall
  5. Cowboy in Flames
  6. Fox River
  7. Hell’s Roof
  8. Do What I Say
  9. Missing Link
  10. If You Don’t Change Your Mind
  11. Death of Country Music
  12. Nothing At All
  13. Plenty Tough Union Made
  14. Harm’s Way
  15. Revolution Blues
  16. Take Me To the Fires


Bloodshot says:

Full of shout-along manifestos and strident tomfoolery from each of their seven studio albums, Waco Express lives up to the mandate given to the mastering engineer to “err on the side of massive, fierce and overwhelming.” Critical darlings since their unleashing, featuring a scribe-ready lineup of members from the Mekons, Jesus Jones, Wreck, Gang of Four and others, as well as a genre-bending fearlessness, the Waco Brothers have always saved their best for the stage. The live shows, particularly at SXSW and CMJ, are events of genuine reverence for their leave-it-all-out-there-this-
should-be-FUN-dammit convictions. Over the years, this fervor has resulted in an onstage wedding proposal betwixt two fans (SXSW ‘02), a riot (Edinburgh ‘03), and a thousand and one lost nights of sweaty, happy reverie.

Sadly, there’s always been the undercurrent of grousing, as good as the studio albums are, that, well, it’s not like BEING there. Well, now it is. On Waco Express, you can practically feel the heat from the stage, smell the smoke on your clothes, taste the beery taste of beer and let your ears bask in the un-tempered wall of sound.

When the first Wacos CD hit the streets in 1995, punk AND country were lying torpid, shaming their respective populist histories. Fifteen years later, the problem has gotten nothing but worse, with one shilling for cruise lines and luxury cars and the other blathering on with a jingoistic fervor not seen since Remember the Maine! Quite frankly, we need the Wacos now more than ever.

“Everything here is bristling with energy, righteous anger and driving, emphatic rock’n'roll.” Iowa City Press Citizen

“It’s a potent mix, the headlong rush alongside well-worn skill, the half-drunken banter next to razor sharp social commentary, and it comes across as unstudied, no, as a force of nature in this uniformly excellent CD. The only problem with this album is that it reminds you, like a kick in the head, that you should have been at this show, instead of only hearing it second hand. That’s the acid test for the best concert recordings, and Waco Express passes easily.” “

“While they’ve never risen above cult-hero status, this superbly recorded live document will leave you wondering why…the band is shit hot [and] they serve up all killer, no filler.” Mike Usinger No Depression

“This collection of songs is strong enough to sub for the Waco Brothers “Greatest Hits” album that in a better world would be filling an end cap at a newly unionized Wal-Mart.”

Greil Marcus: Elephant dancing: why the new Waco Brothers album is not just “live” but alive

Four songs into their uproarious Waco Express: Live & Kickin’ at Schubas Tavern (Bloodshot), the Waco Brothers combine pure blues, honky-tonk country, and stand-up comedy. They’re a so-called mutant country band composed mostly of U.K. expatriates–guitarist Jon Langford, mandolinist Tracey Dear, bassist Alan Doughty, drummer Steve Goulding–plus steel guitarist Mark Durante and guitarist Dean Schlabowske, both originally from Milwaukee.

With Waco Express it doesn’t matter whether you get out much or not; you’re right there in Schubas Tavern as if you’re there five nights a week. The musicians have brought their beers onstage, they’re pushing and insulting each other, greeting friends in the crowd, announcing themselves with “Waco Express,” which inevitably comes off as a version of “Hey, hey, we’re the Monkees.” They bash their way through three songs. And then something breaks–a glass, the space-time continuum, lightning striking through the roof, it doesn’t matter. Everything is different.

It’s one of those moments that can happen only in a small club or a hall where the crowd is on its feet because there’s nowhere to sit down. It’s a sense of event: Something is about to happen. No, something has already happened–the emotional weather has changed. “This song’s about a red brick wall, arrrgggghhhh!” Langford screams, all but spewing Guinness along with the words. And then it’s as if the band isn’t playing the song but chasing it. An exploding pattern of low guitar sparks makes a sound so hard you can almost touch it.

Schlabowske is standing tall in the middle, telling his tale of woe–drunk in an alley, consumed by guilt, lost and abandoned, trussed up on a bed like a pig. That he sounds more corn-fed than James Stewart only makes the pictures his words draw in your head more ludicrous. And then he says something you don’t expect.

On the day of his death I built JFK a shrine
Well, on the day of his death I built JFK a

Suddenly, the classic form of thousands and thousands of blues songs, where the setup of a repeated first line (”I can set right here look on Jackson Avenue/I can set right here look on Jackson Avenue”) is completed by a third line that feels inevitable as soon as you hear it (”I can see everything that my good woman do”) is turned inside out. Inevitable? “I built JFK a shrine”? What could follow that? The music rushes forward, but the song suspends itself; the break between the repeated first two lines and the third is filled with suspense.

I’ve never heard anything like it–and that the third line, now the punch line, falls just short of the first is, somehow, absolutely right.

“Red Brick Wall” isn’t the best song on Waco Express–it isn’t even close. It merely raises the stakes, to the point where Langford’s even faster, harsher, brutally bitter “Hell’s Roof” can take so much out of someone who just stumbled in for a good time, you might feel the band ought to pay the audience rather than the other way around. Schlabowske is back with the gorgeous, swirling motel-room ballad “If You Don’t Change Your Mind.” “Harm’s Way” is a happy-go-lucky stampede so bright and mindless (”Well, every time I think of my baby, working in that old coal mine/I feel so doggone guilty, I–”) you know nothing can go wrong. One song before the throwaway closer that lets the band off the stage to join everyone else at the bar, there is “Revolution Blues.” With big, dramatic flourishes, voices making cheesy horror-movie “woo-woo-woo’s,” the beat moving like a runaway stagecoach without a driver, Schubas Tavern falls away.

It’s Neil Young’s song about the Manson family. When he sang it on On the Beach in 1974, the pace was slow, almost lazy, the voice laconic, a hipster’s knowing smile behind every line: “I’ll kill them in their cars.” As Langford races through the territory, half-scared, half out for blood, you catch that like a flash of light if you catch it at all. You feel the tension, all but scraping your skin. Something terrible is about to happen. No, it’s worse than that: Something terrible has already happened, and you’ve forgotten what it was. The song moves too fast, its words buried in its drive: The Waco Brothers aren’t going to tell you what happened, only that it did.

A lot of good nights out don’t give you that much to take home, that much to keep you awake.

Electric Waco Chair

1. It’s Not Enough (Langford vocals)
2. Make Things Happen (Deano)
3. Mighty Fall (Langford)
4. Jamaican Radio Obituary (Deano)
5. Walking on Hell’s Roof Looking At the Flowers (Langford)
6. Cornered (Tracy Dear)
7. Where in the World (Deano)
8. When I Get My Rewards (Langford)
9. Circle Tour — (Deano)
10. Nothing to Say (Langford)
11. Fox River (Deano)
12. Dragging My Own Tombstone (Langford)
13. Never Real (Deano)


(From Daryl Walsh who posted it to a bloodshot mailing list)

Waco Brothers new disc, Electric Waco Chair, is exceptional. The band left out the horns and, for the most part, keys on this one and created a collection of distinct songs only occasionally reminiscent of anything they’ve done in the past. There are no ‘See Willy Fly By’ or ‘Cowboy in Flames’ punk-country songs on this one–a mellower feel over all. Produced by Ken Sluiter (producer for many Chicago bands, including the Mekons) the songs all sound polished without sounding over-produced. Heard the Waco’s perform several of these songs live at goose fest (and even more during the waco’s 2nd set saturday inside the pub) andwhile they struck me as different from the rest of the waco’s songs, they make the live show that much more interesting.

1. It’s Not Enough (Langford vocals)
– a festive song, straight from the islands. Would fit well on the Mekons’ last release. The band played this one during the early set at goose fest and again at night inside the pub. “I’ll be trying to change the channel/As my life goes flashing by”

2. Make Things Happen (Deano)
– bouncy, upbeat song (yeah, odd words to describe a waco’s song);for some reason, evokes images of BJ and the Bear. great tune. also performed during goose fest.

3. Mighty Fall (Langford)
– slow, deliberate tennessee waltz pace to this song. sounds like a Sally song (maybe similar to something off of John and Sally’s summer release?).

4. Jamaican Radio Obituary (Deano)
– john rice’s fiddle all over this mid-tempo song gives it a loozyanna flavor. one of the best on the disc.

5. Walking on Hell’s Roof Looking At the Flowers (Langford)
– this one starts with just John singing Billy-Bragg-like over a guitar and then the band kicks in and the song takes off into a Sovines-meet-the- Clash lorry-stop special.

6. Cornered (Tracy Dear)
– Breezy, latin flavored song with desperado lyrics, makes you wanna dance.

7. Where in the World (Deano)
– crunchy,driving verses juxtaposed against a soaring, sing-along chorus.

8. When I Get My Rewards (Langford)
wacos version of an oft-covered Paul Kennerly tune.

9. Circle Tour — (Deano)
second song on this disc to reference Grand Rapids (not sure if the reference to Grand Rapids in Jamaican Radio Obit is in reference to Minn or Mich) this song’s explictily about Michigan… a train like backbeat behind the most interesting, sparse music on the disc ( with Kelly Hogan on backing vocals).

10. Nothing to Say (Langford)
– Plenty Tuff Union Made, Pt II (and yet it sounds a little like a john mellencamp song).

11. Fox River (Deano)
– Jagger vocals over Keith Richards guitar and an organ in the background.

12. Dragging My Own Tombstone (Langford)
– Mekons flavored song about working too much for too little.

13. Never Real (Deano)
— laconic song about drinking and moving on…perfect closer.

i’ve included some of the above tracks in the following myplay mix: plid=277632&start=1
to listen, cut and paste the entire url into your browser’s address field. it ends with a ‘1′
DMCA rules restrict how these mixes are made (e.g, no more than 3 songs from an album per 3 hours, mix has to be at least 5 hours, no consecutive songs by the same artist, yadda, yadda, yadda) so the waco’s songs are at the following points in the mix:
mix-track 4 ‘It’s Not Enough’ (track 1 on the cd)
track 6: ‘Make Things Happen’
track 9: ‘Walking on Hell’s Roof Looking at the Flowers’
there’s a couple more Electric Waco Chair songs near the end of the mix (when the myplay filter was satisfied that they were far enough away from the above 3 songs.)

Assorted selections from others artists buffer the waco’s tracks.

Greil Marcus: On the “Salon” website:

It seems certain now that on record the self-proclaimed Last Dead Cowboys will never get close to their live sound, where a vehemence that seems to come out of the ground is summoned to overwhelm any mere songs, and so burns the songs into your heart. On record they’re closer to the ’70s English country band Brinsley Schwarz, which is nothing to be sorry about, unless you want to judge all those you find wanting, which dead cowboys tend to do. Here the vocals alternating between Jon Langford and Dean Schlabowske produce the sense of a conversation between friends who see the world in the same way and feel everything differently. Defeat is the primary condition of their lives, but while for Langford defeat is the only condition of life he trusts, and so in a way he loves it, can trust himself only when he’s looking up from the bottom, Schlabowske will never be at home in his misery, even if he’s never lived anywhere else. He’s Hank Williams, still singing about hope long after he should have learned it’ll never knock; Langford is Williams’ biographer, saying all those things Williams could never say out loud. CDNOW:

Take six Chicago-based British and American punk/industrial veterans and force-feed them Hank Williams and Johnny Cash, and you get the Waco Brothers. Known for their rabble-rousing live shows, until now the Wacos, fueled by who knows how many cases of beer, appeared to record their albums in a single day. Electric Waco Chair their fifth release, sounds like the band finally decided to make an album that stands up to repeated listening, and they’ve more than succeeded. The 13 tracks range from classic rants by Waco/Mekons frontman Jon Langford to Dean Schlabowske’s laconic alt-country offerings. “History’s written by the winner / This is a loser’s song,” Langford sings on “Walking on Hell’s Roof Looking at the Flowers,” whose title pretty much sums up the Wacos scorched-earth lyrical attitude.
But the faint of heart should fear not: Jangly, radio-friendly tunes, such as “Make Things Happen” and “It’s Not Enough,” add balance to the bluster, making for a truly satisfying listen.
Dan Kening
CDNOW Contributing Writer
Call it electric waco slippers:


As The Waco Brothers mature into a real band rather than just another of Jon Langford’s many side projects, Dean Schlabowske and Tracy Dear have tried to carry a greater amount of the songwriting weight, and their sound has taken on a more individual personality, rather than the “Mekons-with-a-twang-and-faster-tempos” sound of their debut. This didn’t work out so well on 1999’s Waco World, a somewhat muddled set that lacked the fire and focus of the group’s best work, but Electric Waco Chair finds the Wacos firmly back on track; Schlabowske and Dear are learning to deliver material just as strong as Langford’s always top-shelf work (especially “Jamaican Radio Obituary” and “Fox River”), and the band sounds tighter, stronger, and more expressive than ever before (the three live cuts also testify to the Wacos undeniable strength on stage). If Electric Waco Chair offers a bit less pure fury than the Waco Brothers’ high-water mark, Cowboy in Flames, from a musical standpoint it finds this band sounding better than ever before, and their rabble-rousing anger is still very much in evidence if you’re looking for it; the Waco Brothers are one of the very best bands to emerge from the alt-country scene, and this album proves they’re only getting better with time.

~ Mark Deming

From DAA: Dancing about architecture:

Alt-country. I mean, what the hell does that mean? Here in Chicago, it’s thrown around with almost the same regularity as terms like “wind chill” and “political corruption.” But the latter, at least, defines something — say, when your alderman pockets a five-figure bribe in exchange for a cherry city contract. On the other hand, alt-country could be practically anything — Chuck Berry, Meatloaf, Pere Ubu, Liberace, At the Drive-In, Yanni — you name it. Anything that sounds like it wouldn’t have made the soundtrack of Coal Miner’s Daughter. Since you won’t hear Loretta Lynn warbling “Walking on Hell’s Roof Looking at the Flowers” or “Make Things Happen,” call the Waco Brothers alt-country, I guess. But also recognize that this, their fifth and best long-player, is where the shtick finally hits the fan as Dean Schlabowski shoves Jon Langford toward the sometime-Mekon’s best rock and roll since The Mekons Rock ‘N’ Roll. Not that they’ve outgrown honky-tonkin’; you’ll find snatches here and there of the twang that often gets them miscast as a novelty act. But Langford’s always expressed himself best over dirty guitars and a backbeat, and this time out, he’s clearly got something to say.
Rating: 8
Rob Brookman/Tim Frommer

Freedom And Weep

weep1Release Date: August 16, 2005

01 Nothing at all
02 Chosen few
03 Come a long way
04 Secrets
05 How fast the time
06 Lincoln town car
07 It’s amazing
08 On the sly
09 Drinkin & cheatin & death
10 Fantasy
11 Missing link
12 Rest of the world
13 Join the club



Bloodshot says:

Down from the hills in their fuel efficient mini-van with ‘The Waco Brothers Invade Jesusland’ scrawled on the side in glitter and fire-red lipstick, the Brothers are ready to show off the totems they’ve carved out of the corpses of punk and country.

Times are tough and disasters both natural and unnatural threaten to dismantle all we hold precious. There can be no more welcome a sight to a beaten and misled populace than a band with nothing left to lose careening through the streets, dousing us with warm beer and sweat, guitars rumbling and tongues sharpened, spraying a foul scent into the corrupt temple. The Waco Brothers’ seventh CD shows their usual subtlety at leaving genre after genre in smoking ruins.

During the past decade in the blood-bucket roots underground, The Wacos have been called everything from saviors to butchers and Freedom and Weep is a decidedly rockin’ addition to their formidable canon, a swaggering return to form that hits all your g-spots and leaves you panting. Cuts about crafty little Christians dismantling democracy, going for a drink, golfers disguised as national leaders, appearing stupider than you really are, watching your carbs the night before they strap you to the gurney, election night jitters, and models throwing themselves out of first floor Motel 6 windows show that the Brothers are still able to meet the enemy head on with a good, hair-raising boozy cackle.

No, the years have not dimmed the Wacos zeal for looking into the face of the grotesque cultural and social forces that are forever trying to turn us into placid drones devoid of outrage. Sure, you can dismiss these as songs shouted from the end of the bar by some sozzled cranks. But beyond the pounding of the drums, the shrieking of the steel and the knee-jerking hedonism, outrage stumbles about, there is madness and rage, and the joke is over and the laughter is hollow and tired.


Originally published 07/01/05 in Vital Source.

Waco Brothers
Freedom and Weep
by Blaine Schultz

In 1965, Brian Jones insisted that Howlin’ Wolf play on the U.S. teenybopper television program “Shindig,” when his group, the Rolling Stones, appeared. This bitch slap effectively asked America: “This music was in your backyard all along. Why did you need us to tell you it was cool?”

Fast-forward to 1985. History repeats itself when U.K. punks, the Mekons, don thrift-store cowboy shirts and hand country music back to America with the album Fear and Whiskey. A decade later, Mekon Jon Langford – along with Milwaukee expatriate Dean Schlabowske and Tracy Dear riding shotgun – forms the Waco Brothers, a side project that takes a life of its own. This Chicago-based band has released a series of shit-kicker country-punk albums more in the spirit and attitude of vintage Bakersfield than Nashville’s gentility. The Wacos don’t claim to be some lithe bluegrass combo or pedigreed blue-harmony yodelers. This is equal parts thought-provoking and Saturday night music.

Freedom and Weep takes a typically pointed look at the climate in the early days of George W. Bush’s second term. It’s not difficult to read daily headlines into lyrics like “what if our history means nothing at all?” and “Daddy says I was the chosen one.” Likewise, the tune “Fantasy” draws on reality television shows. Yeah, things change. Nashville is the new Hollywood, complete with power ballads circa Def Leppard’s Hysteria serving as the template for a hit; the novelty of steel guitars and fiddles sprinkled as the pixie dust of authenticity.

With a fitting lack of subtlety, the tune “Missing Link” takes aim at the crossroads of faith, religion, science and common sense. In the end, history is going to be told by the winners, but there is always going to be a Waco Brother somewhere pointing out the emperor’s new clothes while he blows his tuneless trumpet. And when life just seems to make no sense at all, it’s comforting to realize we can count on the Wacos to pen inspired couplets like “Krakatowa east of Java/Smother me with molten lava.” VS


On that note
By Joe Hooten
3 out of 5

Political correctness was definitely not a consideration when the Waco Brothers wrote Freedom and Weep, but its possible they believe in their own “correctness” which involves plenty of booze, loud guitars, and a closeness to the “left.”

Brash, loud, and full of political angst on their seventh CD, the Wacos rip through 13 tracks on Freedom and Weep like the Democrats who torched their newspapers and kicked in their televisions the morning after the 2004 election. Scared? Maybe you should be.

The Waco Brothers is a collage of musicians with full-time gigs with other bands. The infamous lineup includes: Jon Langford on vocals and guitar (Mekons, Pine Valley Cosmonauts), Deano on vocals and guitar (Wreck, Dollar Store), Steve Goulding on drums (Graham Parker & the Rumour, Mekons), Alan Doughty on bass (Jesus Jones), Mark Durante on steel guitar (Revolting Cocks, KMFDM), and Tracy Dear on mandolin. Since its first album, To the Last Dead Cowboy (1995), the Waco Brothers have been compared to bands like Golden Smog, which is also comprised of all-star players from other bands.

The album’s opening track, “Nothing at All” gives a promising glimpse into the rest of the album. Part country, part punk, partly contrived, but pleasantly entertaining and enlightening to some (and probably offensive to others), Freedom and Weep is a complete mixture of disdain for those currently in power along with a distorted sense of humor, and a unique musical tribute to good old rock n’ roll.

The Waco Brothers wear their political ideals on their sleeve. Take, for example, “Rest of the World,” with lines like: “The champagne’s still on iceMight as well down it tonightIt ain’t gonna wait four more yearsNor will your rights.” Or on “Drinkin’ & Cheatin’ & Death,” the opening line blasts “Last call before the FallHere come the sponsors to drag me awayThe system’s shut down and the dancing’s stoppedIt was sick but it felt OK.”

The Waco Brothers have a reputation for a “leave it all on the stage” attitude, which can make for a memorable live show or a complete collapse from the numerous bottles and pitchers from the bar. Legend has it that the Wacos have come to be the hallmark band for the impressive SXSW Music Festival in Austin, Texas, and various CMJ Music Events over the past 10 years.

Some critics consider the Waco Brothers to be a “faux-country band,” nothing more than a side project of talented musicians that maintain careers in other bands while taking out their frustrations via the Wacos. Even if this is true, it is evident that songwriting and musicianship is serious stuff to these guys. Although the album is heavily opinionated, it still fits within the “No DepressionAlt-Country” genre. Despite the heavy attitude on most of the songs, the album is fluid and enjoyable as much as it is comical — depending on how you voted last November.

During the 1960s Vietnam era, folk and rock musicians became a catalyst for protest. Their music electrified and corralled people together under a common goal. In my opinion, we haven’t seen such activism in music since that era until now. While it is certainly on a much smaller scale, the war in Iraq has either spurred another movement or people are just cashing in on the Bush-bashing bandwagon. Musicians and bands like Steve Earle, Bruce Springsteen, and Son Volt have all come out with songs critical of the current administration, but the Wacos take it a step further (or sideways) by adding a not-so-serious tone while poking fun at the commander-in-chief.

I have a friend whose idea of political activism consists of forwarding tons of pointless chain emails that, unfortunately, are his source for his spoon-fed opinions on governmental affairs (I’m sure you know the type). The Waco Brothers would chew “all talk, and no action” folks like him up. In fact, these political posers are just one of the ingredients behind the Waco’s latest concoction, Freedom and Weep. It might appear that the Wacos are just sore losers, but liberalism is sometimes reactionary and therefore the Brothers have every right to stand up and scream their sardonic lyrics at full volume about what they feel is wrong with this country, even if they are jumping on the bandwagon a little too late.

The album comes out on the reputable Bloodshot Record label on Aug. 16. Ask for it at your local record store.

(Joe Hooten is a WCU graduate and teacher. He can be reached at


I always thought that I didn’t care for the Waco Brothers. They seemed like the also-ran to the Mekons — the band that people who didn’t know about Jon Langford’s primary gig would listen to for a watered-down version of the country-punk that the Mekons pioneered.
Now that I think about it, I’m not sure how I ever got that impression in the first place: the Wacos always brought the house down at the annual Bloodshot CMJ label showcase in Brooklyn, and whenever I heard one of their tracks on a sampler I enjoyed the experience. In any case, based on the quality of Freedom and Weep, it’s safe to say that my whole (probably ill-formed) opinion of the band has taken a turn for the positive.
In any case, for those of you who aren’t familiar with the Waco Brothers, their approach to alt-country errs to the rocky side; not that that’s a bad thing, of course, but if you’re looking for an accompaniment while you weep into a glass of Pabst, you might do well to look elsewhere. There’s not a downtempo moment anywhere on Freedom (the closest is the gentle, midtempo, upbeat “Come A Long Long Way”); neither (and this is far more remarkable) is there a weak track. Vocal duties pass between three lead singers, and you’re sure to like one more than the others, but none is a deal-breaker by any means.

On many of these songs, the “country” part of the equation has more to do with instrumental textures or songwriting approach (just as was the case with Fear and Whiskey and Honky Tonkin’). “How Fast Is The Time”, for instance, is a straight-ahead rocker, albeit the kind that a yodeling drawl like Dwight Yoakam’s could turn into a country barnburner. Langford’s same-as-it-ever-was Strummeresque declamations keep the song firmly grounded in the rock camp (not, of course, that there’s anything wrong with that). Naturally, the Wacos’ multi-genre feel leads to a number of interesting textural mash-ups, like the reggae guitar rhythm on “Lincoln Town Car”, which manages the neat trick of sounding like the work of a rockin’ honky-tonk band that just played a weekend in Kingston.

Given the album’s title, as well as Langford’s well-known political views, you might expect a great deal more political ranting than you’ll find on Freedom; the only big anti-Bush diatribe is the resigned-but-still-fucking-pissed “Rest of the World”, which admittedly features some nice lyrical turns (”The champagne’s still on ice / might as well down it tonight / It ain’t gonna last four more years / nor will your rights.” For at least half of the Brothers’ audience (Who are we kidding? Ninety-five percent), it will bring back bitter, recent memories. But hey, at least they’re getting drunk too.

Freedom and Weep is one kick-ass track after another from a group that’s clearly in the midst of its prime. If you’ve ever entertained the same silly notions about the Wacos’ irrelevance that I did, give this one a spin and see if they don’t change your mind.

– Brett McCallon


by Stephen Haag

It’s hard to keep up with Jon Langford, what with membership in the Mekons, the Pine Valley Cosmonauts, the Three Johns and the Waco Brothers (not to mention a solo career and a sideline gig as a folk artist — that’s his art on the cover of Freedom and Weep). He never gets complacent and he never gets redundant. He also does his best work when he’s outraged by the goings-on in the world; fortunately — for his music, at least — there’s no short of material here in 21st century America to raise Langford’s hackles and inform the latest and greatest from the Waco Brothers, Freedom and Weep.

Of course, the Wacos are a democracy; it’s not the Jon Langford show (after all, would the Left-leaning Langford have it any other way?). Also in the Brotherhood are singer/guitarist Dean Schlabowske, drummer Steve Goulding, bassist Alan Doughty, steel guitarist Mark Durante and singer/mandolinist Tracy Dear; together they comprise the steadiest, most consistent and just plain rollickin’ alt-country outfit of the past decade.

Freedom and Weep, as with the entire Waco discography, is a hoot to blare while drive down an open stretch of road. The full list of rocking moments on this album would be too long to compile, but Schlabowske, the everyman Yin to Langford’s firebrand Yang, kicks off the album with the barroom stomper “Nothing at All”, and his solo on the darker-than-usual-for-the-band “Secrets” is a standout on the disc. Meanwhile, Langford’s “Drinkin’ & Cheatin’ & Death” may not scale the Hot Nashville-vilifying heights of his earlier “Death of Country Music” (off 1997’s Cowboy in Flames), but the sentiment is strong (”Country radio lost its bottle/ Started selling a fantasy/ No drinkin’, no killin’ and the only D.I.V.O.R.C.E./ Is from reality/ >From history”) and to these ears, hearing Langford trill his “rrrrr”’s means there’s still hope in the world.

Politics are as important to the Wacos as the riffs; really, it’s a case of a spoonful of sugar helping the medicine go down. Having already painted an unflattering picture of a certain current American president on 2003’s New Deal with “The Lie”, but not getting the change in the White House they were angling for, part of me figured the Wacos would devote this entire new album to calling out Dubya further (that said, even done well, it would have been a wearying disc). Instead, only two songs allude to the president, and he’s never mentioned by name: “Chosen One”, where Langford snarls in his Welsh accent, “Dumb Boy the Patriot/ One day you’ll run out of luck”,
and “The Rest of the World”, where Schlabowske sings, “The champagne’s still on ice/ Might as well down it tonight/ It ain’t gonna wait four more years/ Nor will your rights.” Come to think of it, these two tunes sum up Langford and Schlabowske’s songwriting tacks: political and personal (with a dash of booze), respectively.

And lest I not mention everyone, other Wacos sing! Tracy Dear contributes two songs — “Come a Long Long Way” and the life-on-the-road tune “Fantasy” — that are a little slower than Langford and Schlabowske’s offerings. Call them the only two chances to catch your breath during the album. And Mark Durante sings the hopeful, we’re-all-in-this-mess-together closing track, “Join the Club”. After spending most of Freedom and Weep chronicling the ways in which everyone is separated from each other, it’s nice to hear a call for unity, even if it goes “If you’re sick of being treated like dirt/ Sick of being hurt/ Join the club.”

Freedom and Weep is, in the best sense of the phrase, more of the same from the Wacos. Yes, they’ve been documenting the same social ills — the plight of the worker, the stupidity/duplicity of world leaders, the woeful state of country music and how hard life on the road is (though I can’t sympathize/empathize with that one) — over the course of seven albums, starting with 1995’s To the Last Dead Cowboy. And while some would call that a 10-year rut, or even worse, shoveling shit against the tide — after all, has anything changed for the better during the Wacos run? — I say they’re still at the top of their game. People are lazy and forgetful and need rabblerousers like the Waco Brothers to come around every two years or so with a fresh batch of songs and reminders that there’s still a lot of work to do to improve our world.

— 15 August 2005

Over the course of eight albums, Waco Brothers have thoroughly established their shtick: tradition-minded, punkish country played by a Chicago band featuring several native Europeans with non-country musical pedigrees (in Jesus Jones, Revolting Cocks, and KMFDM, among others). The Wacos - led by songwriter-vocalists Jon Langford, Deano Schlabowske, and Tracey Dear - infuse lefty outrage into rollicking roots songs that lambaste Bush, Christian conservatives, commercial radio, and society in general enough to please any political hardcore band. Red Staters would probably enjoy the music, until they read the lyrics.

By this point in their career, the shtick could easily feel rote. Alt-country bands have broken down country-music stereotypes for roughly 20 years (Langford contributed with his other band, Mekons, and their 1985 album Fear And Whiskey), so the Wacos’ acerbic barn-burners aren’t exactly revolutionary anymore. But the current political and social climate provides bountiful inspiration (Schlabowske even thanks “W for all the material” in the liner notes), and in the group’s skilled hands, the entire package never feels hackneyed. The Waco songwriters, particularly Langford, are insightful lyricists; they make the words understandable but slightly arcane, so that people have to pay attention to comprehend their meaning. The penultimate track, “Rest Of The World,” is the most direct anti-Bush screed, but Schlabowske never mentions the re-election specifically. Aside from a clunky line about champagne on ice not lasting four years, “nor will your rights,” Schlabowske conveys his everyman outrage well: “There’s you and me and the rest of the world be damned.” Langford again criticizes one of his favorite targets, mainstream country music, on “Drinkin’ & Cheatin’ & Death,” a rock song with a rootsy edge that blasts country’s self-censorship. In his Welsh brogue, he sings, “‘Cos country radio lost its bottle / Started sellin’ a fantasy / No drinkin’, no killin’, and the only D-I-V-O-R-C-E / Is from reality, from history.”

For all the Wacos’ gleefully sardonic lyrics, clever turns of phrase can’t save a crappy song, but Freedom And Weep doesn’t have one. It comes out of the gates strong with the enthusiastic “Nothing At All,” experiments with moodier material on “Come A Long Long Way” and “It’s Amazing” (with its excellent, galloping bassline), and ends with a supremely country group sing-along, “Join The Club.” Pedal steel permeates all of the songs, inherently lending an air of honky-tonk authenticity. Like the rest of the album, it sounds great.

Forget Paris, Think Waco

By Shannon Zimmerman
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, August 21, 2005; N06

Alt-country’s Waco Brothers have been making amazing records for so long, it’s easy to take them for granted.

Fronted by living legend Jon Langford — whose punk-era luminaries the Mekons are still up and running, God bless ‘em — the band is almost too good to be true. The Chicago-based outfit provides such a rich and smart-alecky amalgam of down-home cowpunk and biting lyrical wit that it’s nearly impossible to believe it exists.

But exist it does, and “Freedom and Weep,” the band’s cleverly titled seventh CD, is easily its best outing yet.

Following on the heels of Langford’s impressive 2004 solo turn, “All the Fame of Lofty Deeds,” the Wacos’ new one picks up where their ringleader left off: In the midst of contemplating a U.S. of A. cut loose from its wide-eyed moorings and bound up in the kind of mind-numbing paranoia and/or ennui that apparently only hard drinking, “Girls Gone Wild” and, maybe, Paris Hilton can relieve.

“Pass me the bottle, hand me my heart,” offers Dean Schlabowske as his fellow Wacos serve up a twang-laden backyard barbecue on the album’s fiery set opener, “Nothing at All.” “I’m wasted and stunted, but I talk like a star.” In a perfect world, that lyric, dripping with sarcasm, would be a call — if not to arms then at least to stop Tivoing “The Simple Life” and to start paying attention to real life.

The Wacos, alas, aren’t too hopeful on that front.

To wit: The swaggering “Drinkin’ & Cheatin’ & Death” — a track that sounds like something the members of Kiss might cook up if they operated a Branson nightspot — opens during “last call before the fall” at a country bar. And it closes, appropriately enough, with a sputtering lament, offered from the point of view of a performer whose corporate sponsors have come to drag him off the stage, that “the only D-I-V-O-R-C-E is from reality, from history.”

Elsewhere, on the barnstorming “Chosen One,” Langford zings the powers that be by commingling the parable of the loaves and fishes with an ad hominem attack on “Dumb Boy the Patriot,” a character who finds “mayhem so seductive” and that “destruction is instructive.”

Subtle? Not hardly. But that’s never been the Wacos’ calling card. Instead, on pithy, bitter ditties like “Secrets” — a fast-paced country two-stepper that could inspire a mosh pit at a hootenanny — and the crunchy “On the Sly,” the band combines torn-from-the-op-ed-pages words with music that fans of higher-profile alt-country acts would no doubt swoon for. And that goes double for “It’s Amazing,” a track that taps into the country mystique that Lucinda Williams shot for (and missed) on 2003’s tepid “World Without Tears.”

But cherry-picking keepers from “Freedom and Weep” is light work. Better to slightly misquote Langford’s contemporaries in the Clash and say that, taken together, the songs assembled on this fine and substantial platter resonate like public service announcements — with pedal steel guitar.

Now / Toronto:

The Waco Brothers are the Grateful Dead of cowpunk, an incredibly spectacular live outfit who’ve rarely been able to translate their fervent, propulsive energy into a solid studio set. They’ve lways been the left-wing voice of reason, downing pints at the local pub and puking up political manifestos for the working man like some old-timer who just won’t shut the fuck up no matter how any times you politely ask. And Freedom is no exception, with typically humorous rants about Christian extremists, reality TV, George Dubya and the state of the States. Yet it’s as if the Brothers ent for a night of virgin Marys instead of their normal crutch and came out rejuvenated, clear-headed and determined to clear up any questions about their ability to serve up a full-on rock record with nary a weak track, and just enough pedal steel to show they haven’t lost touch with their roots. A must.
Remember back in 1995, when the Waco Brothers told us “Bad Times (Are Comin’ Round Again)” on their first album? Who ever knew they would be so right? Maybe we all thought things looked grim under the rule of “Bill the Cowboy” back in the day, but six years of “Dubya” can go a long way towards changing someone’s perspective, and kicking up your heels isn’t as easy as it used to be. Jon Langford and his fellow Waco Brothers seem to know it, and Freedom and Weep, the group’s seventh album, is a bit less twangy and a bit less rambunctious than the band’s best work, though if you think that means the band is losing sight of their rage, you’d be wrong. Freedom and Weep is a full-bodied but bitter chronicle of living in an America that more than ever resembles Phil Ochs’ description of a nation that’s become “two Mack trucks colliding on a superhighway because all the drivers are on amphetamines.” With tougher rock, tighter performances, and a bit less mournful steel than one might expect (don’t worry, it hasn’t gone away, it’s just less prominent), Freedom and Weep rants against working class poverty (”Nothing at All”), ugly Americanism (”Rest of the World”), conspicuous consumption (”Lincoln Town Car”), and the president of the United States (”Chosen One”), while the less polemical numbers still speak of a time and place where confusion reigns and desperation is just as real as the beer in your refrigerator. Freedom and Weep isn’t quite a top-shelf Waco Brothers album, but it’s an appropriate one for America in the year 2005, and if there’s a good share of bitter futility in these songs, there’s also a liberating rage, and if this once-great land is at the point of collapse, the Waco Brothers are here to, at the very least, see that the folks who still care go down swinging. ~ Mark Deming, All Music Guide


Rating: 6.6

As the grim smirk of its title implies, Freedom and Weep finds Jon Langford and the Waco Brothers– now rather unbelievably 10 years and
seven albums into the game– in a cranky, dispirited frame of mind. Though outwardly the group’s foursquare, whiskey-soaked country-rock remains as wry and ornery as ever, on many of these tracks a distinctive air of bitter, spiteful resignation has crept in, leaving the album with a depressive, hungover pallor around its gills. And while by this point one could never question the Brothers’ zealous devotion to their cause, nor their unimpeachable talents as a riotous live act, one can’t help but wish that their righteous anger more frequently translated itself into similarly fiery, unrestrained abandon in the recording studio.

For their first album since 2002’s New Deal, the Waco Bros. have scaled back on their twang slightly– and on the vestiges of actual punk almost completely– and have now cozily settled into a tempered Crazy Horse/Skynyrd mid-range classicism. Early in the group’s career the Wacos were often perceived as merely another of Jon Langford’s numerous side projects away from the Mekons– and rather a play-acting novelty at that. But they’ve long since matured into a true, fully democratic band, and here Langford splits microphone time with guitarist Deano as well as mandolinist Tracy Dear. Performances are stout if generally uneventful throughout, and often it’s the tasteful pedal steel contributions of Mark Durante (formerly of Revolting Cocks and KMFDM) and the relentless pummel of drummer Steve Goulding (who’s played with everyone from Graham Parker and Elvis Costello to Archer Prewitt) that rescue these tracks from their most hidebound roadhouse tendencies.

“What if our history means nothing at all?” worries Deano on the opening blue-collar lament “Nothing At All”, a Son Voltish scorcher that immediately (if unsurprisingly) reestablishes the Wacos’ alignment with the woebegotton, put-upon underdog. This can’t-win-for-losing stance leads the band quite naturally to the election night blues of “The Rest of the World”, (”Champagne’s still on ice/ Might as well down it tonight/ It ain’t going to last four more years/ Nor are your rights,”) as well as to Langford’s exquisitely vindictive Bush diatribe “Chosen One”.

On the well-titled “Drinkin’ & Cheatin’ and Death”, Langford returns another of his favorite barn-sized targets– commercial Nashville country. Over the album’s best woozy hook he drops the newsflash “Country radio lost its balls/ And started selling fantasy/ No drinking, no killing and the only divorce is from reality,” tidily bringing up-to-date those listeners who’ve been comatose or otherwise out-of-pocket for the past couple decades. Elsewhere, the Brothers direct barbs at reality TV (”Fantasy”), crass materialism (”Lincoln Town Car”), and Intelligent Design (”Missing Link”) with varying degrees of wit and subtlety, but unfortunately the band’s staunch musical conservatism ensures that none of these tracks ever ventures far from the predictable. Freedom and Weep culminates with the raucous, misery-loves-company anthem “Join the Club”, an appropriately cheerless finale for what’s arguably the Waco Brothers’ most accomplished but least fun album to date.

-Matthew Murphy, August 30, 2005


As they’ve demonstrated since the time of their first release (1995’s To the Last Dead Cowboy), the Waco Brothers have a dual reason for their existence. One is to give voice to the angers, fears and hopes they feel as they bear witness to the world around them, and the other is to rock with unshakable commitment. Combining the compellingly vivid vocals of the Clash with similarly outraged diatribes, they couch them in human scaled scenarios, not unlike the approach Steve Earle has taken. This is a band John Fogerty could be proud of, as they take on the abuse of privilege, the arrogance of power, and the dizzy travails of those on the lower rungs of the social ladder. –David Greenberger
First Appeared in The Music Box, August 2005, Volume 12, #8

Written by John Metzger

The Waco Brothers has made a career out of pitting its Joe Strummer-esque inclinations against its Mick Jagger-ish posturing, but rarely has this unique dichotomy worked as well in the studio as it has in concert. On its latest outing Freedom and Weep, however, the band makes its most concerted effort since 1999’s Waco World to avoid trying to duplicate the blood and guts fury of its live performances. While the end result is, perhaps, more polished than one might expect, it also is more mature, more accessible, and remarkably more engaging than much of what the ensemble has released in the past.

For the record, Freedom and Weep’s songs are sung with a snarl, but its underlying music is delivered with a certain semblance of restraint. Although the bulk of the outing is propelled by the Waco Brothers’ knack for concocting angst-filled, rhythmic tension, it also is carefully shaded with the textural layers of guitar, mandolin, and pedal steel. Indeed, it seems that after all this time, the Waco Brothers finally has crafted a radio-friendly batch of material, all of which would fit quite comfortably within the context of a typical classic-rock station. In fact, for once it feels as if the band actually found the album-making process to be an agreeable affair. Indeed, the group’s performance throughout Freedom and Weep is lively and vibrant, and consequently, the selections — be it the acoustic, country-tinged ballad I’ve Come a Long Way or the galloping cow-punk of Secrets — sounds fresher than most like-minded endeavors.

The reason, perhaps, behind the Waco Brothers’ newfound, organic approach may lie within the reoccurring thematic message that binds together Freedom and Weep’s disparate selections. Although the band consistently has positioned itself as a voice for the working man, its attention increasingly has turned towards larger, more worldly issues. Fantasy, for example, skewers America’s infatuation with reality television and celebrity culture. Reignited by George W. Bush’s imperialistic rule, the group takes direct aim at Christian fundamentalists (Missing Link), the intertwining of faith and politics (Chosen One), and the President’s re-election (The Rest of the World). By concluding with its rousing pep talk Join the Club, the Waco Brothers successfully unites its past and present visions into a electrifying call-to-arms that allows Freedom and Weep to stand as its most focused outing to date.


By Chris Estey

This is a PISSED OFF album, made by a gin-soaked gaggle of British and American club-crawling punk Godfathers, and it’s full of snarling but smart complaints and lamentations about dumb-ass Christians and greedy fucking Texas warlords and how “If you think you’re getting screwed, join the club!” The tasty minimum wage gruel of timeless rock, fuel-pungent gas station 70s folk and country, and it’s-fucking-late-I’m-out-of-here pub-punk, perfectly matches the kidney-punch of the working class poetry smoothly sung by several of the musicians.

Speaking of the musicians, it’s hard to believe that various Waco Brothers have been doing this for seven records, but Jon Langford (Mekons) sexily leads his band through these lucky thirteen songs about bad luck and bad faith, featuring Wreck’s Deano, Graham Parker’s drummer Stephen Goulding, mandolin player Tracy Dear, and the bass player from Jesus Jones (!-Alan Doughty) and Mark Durante, the steel guitarist from — KMFDM? The Revolting Cocks? What the fuck?!

Oh, what the hell — times have been weird for everyone, and we’re all in the same post-election shit-hole. Anyways, the Waco Brothers are coming to the Sunset Tavern on September 25th, and I wouldn’t miss it for anything. Just seeing Langford brings back for example the gorgeous raw energy of Joe Strummer at the Showbox a few years ago — these are the equivalent of blistered bluesmen, full of stinking anarchist urine from the most fermented swing-time wine. Don’t miss it, this guy’s a swanky goddamn comet, and just gets full of more roots-rock fire with each passing year.

The songs you’ll be hearing in a couple weeks will include the opening not-making-it-by-payday basher “Nothing At All,” the have-hope-or-die atheist-gospel flow of “It’s Amazing,” and especially “Chosen One,” one of Langford’s greatest rants ever (”Loaves & fishes — guns and drugs — cruel New Jerusalem — You’re faith is shaken, no mistaken — We’re only as strong as the drugs we’re taking”), feeling like something Dylan would have imbibed, scribed, and shrived for “Highway 61 Revisited” (seriously). In fact, the fed-up, mystical, religious-political melancholy of that classic rock album feels like a hurtful hangover all the way through Freedom And Weep.

It’s that good, that sad, and that NECESSARY.


…favourite leftie-socialist-cowboy-twang-collective has returned with what is actually their most non-“Waco” CD yet. Rest assured, our heroes are still fightin’ the good fight (can they do anything else? – bless you, boys!) but Freedom And Weep is the most accomplished piece of country-flavoured rock the band has put out yet. The Waco Brothers stopped …
Waco Brothers

Freedom And Weep – (Bloodshot)

Is that a Waco Brothers CD title, or what?

Our favourite leftie-socialist-cowboy-twang-collective has returned with what is actually their most non-“Waco” CD yet. Rest assured, our heroes are still fightin’ the good fight (can they do anything else? – bless you, boys!) but Freedom And Weep is the most accomplished piece of country-flavoured rock the band has put out yet. The Waco Brothers stopped being a loose novelty a few releases ago, but Freedom And Weep may be the culmination of that.

It’s not like these guys haven’t been playing for years (many know the drill –Mekon Jon Langford, ex-Rumour Steve Steve Goulding and so forth), but through songs like the opening anthem “Nothing At All” and the closing, uh, anthem “Join The Club” (yeah, they know how to put together fist-in-the-air songs) sound like a band with a roster that’s never played with anyone else. And with pedal steel no less.

Dean Schlabowske (who also heads up his own outfit, Dollar Store) and Tracey Dear offer the finer vocal performances here in songs like the aforementioned “Nothing At All” while Dear delivers on the actually pretty “I’ve Come A Long Way”. Of course, there’s familiar Waco territory in songs like “Lincoln Town Car” (“That’s the pride of Detroit, the pride of workers”) and Langford’s quotable all over “Chosen One” (“Your faith is shaking, there’s no mistaking, we’re only as strong, as the drugs we’re taking”). Of course, the state of country music doesn’t get overlooked either (“Drinkin’ And Cheatin’ And Death”).

The Waco Brothers continue to demonstrate that punk doesn’t own the privilege of getting pissed off - mixing it with a solid twang can work wonders as well.

Rocktimes (Germany):

Waco Brothers!
Wer denkt bei einem solchen Namen nicht gleich an eine Gunfighter-Gang, die von Allen gefürchtet, robust in ihrem Auftreten ist und doch irgendwie bewundert wird? Ihre Musik könnte exakt vor diesem Hintergrund gemacht worden sein.
“Freedom And Weep” reitet daher auf einem Gaul namens Country Rock. Die Fendergitarren schrabbeln mit einer verdammt lässigen Verzerrung und der Bass präsentiert seine Line mit der beschwingten Leichtigkeit eines Bisons. Die Waco Brothers performen ihre Songs übrigens trivocal und lassen dazu im Background die Pedal Steel in der Tonlage des Kojoten jaulen. COOL!
Keine Minute kommt Langeweile auf, genau wie bei einem Banküberfall in El Paso.
Von ihrer besten Seite präsentiert sich die Band immer dann, wenn sie im gestreckten Galopp durch die Prärie pflügt. Soll heißen: Die schnellen Nummern entwickeln eine besondere Note, nämlich das klassisches “Yeehaaa”-Feeling. Das eine oder andere Mal schimmern zwar die Drive-By Truckers durch die Arrangements, was aber durchaus als Kompliment begriffen werden sollte.
Insgesamt klingt “Freedom And Weep” wie das Hintergrundrauschen zu einer rasanten Postkutschen-Verfolgungsjagd, inklusive Achsenbruch, Skalpjägern und eine Fass Feuerwasser.
Die nicht immer völlig sattelfesten Vocals von Bandenchef Jon Langford und seinen Sidemen Deano und Tracey geben den Songs eine nützliche Raufboldatmosphäre. Wenn sie allerdings durch die Backgroundvocals Unterstützung finden, werden diese Passagen richtig gut.
Schwingt euch also auf die Schindmähren und hört in ein paar Songs rein:
Auf kaum einem privaten Party-Sampler der Country-Rock infizierten Randgruppe wird zukünftig das flotte “Nothing At All” fehlen. Im Grundriff klingen die Akkorde schön aus und die Pedal Steel johlt dazu euphorisch. Der eingängige Refrain wird spätestens ab 02:00 Uhr lauthals mit gegröhlt. Dieser Song ist eines der Dinger, die auch von den Drive-By Truckers stammen könnten.
Am Lagerfeuer, bei Sonnenuntergang und einer Kanne starken Kaffee, startet “Come A Long Long Way”. Die Strophen werden vom typischen Gitarrensound und der Pedal Steel untermauert. Ein Liedchen, um sehnsüchtig in den Westen zu gucken.
Mit Fast-Rider Rhythmik springt “Secrets” durch die Canyons. Die Snare wird von Lil’ Willy Goulding häufig frequentiert und wieder ist der Refrain das Gold Nugget in der Songmine. Aber auch das Gitarrensolo sticht ins Ohr. Rau im Sound, dabei aber ursprünglich und staubig.
Eine prächtige traditionelle Americana Roots Nummer liefern die Waco Brothers mit “It’s Amazing” ab. Die melancholische Stimmung der Rhythmusgitarre wird durch die eindringlichen Harmonika Akkorde noch verstärkt. Die Wacos lassen die Gitarren schön ruhig schnurren und legen den Schwerpunkt auf den Gesang. Dazu gesellen sich immer wieder die Harmonika- Fills.
So ein Ding wie “Drinkin’ & Cheating & Death” traute man bisher wohl am ehesten Country Dick Montana zu. Gott sei seiner Seele gnädig! Von Speed her liegt das Stück im mittleren Tachobereich. Gegen Ende gibt’s ein kleines Duell zwischen den Keyboards und der Gitarre.
In die gleiche Kerbe, nämlich in die einer flotten Beat Farmers Nummer, schlägt “Missing Link”. Das fehlende Glied swingt amtlich. Aber am besten daran ist wohl die Rhythmusgitarre. Es schringt und schrammt im Fendersound. Herrlich, scharf, kantig, unmodern und schroff.
Da draußen sind noch eine Menge Bands unterwegs, die man unbedingt mal auf einer Bühne erleben muss. Die Waco Brothers gehören dazu. Die Bilder auf der Fan-Web-Seite zeigen warum. Den Link gibt’s unten. Sie scheinen live mindestens so authentisch zu agieren wie auf Datenträger.

“Freedom an Weep” lohnt sich also nicht nur für ‘Lonesome Riders’. Für viele Stimmungen sind Songs darauf. Auch für Parties! Nicht für diesen steifen Cocktail Schwachsinn, bei dem beschlipste Schlaumeier so gerne ihre Lehrbuchweisheiten absondern, sondern für richtige Parties. Ihr wisst, welche ich meine.
Die Scheibe ist genreüblich produziert. Sie klingt so, wie es beabsichtigt wurde - nämlich ehrlich und ungeschliffen. Als Kopfgeld setzten wir sieben RockTimes- Uhren auf die Waco Brothers Bande aus.

Shepherd Express:

If there’s any one thing the Waco Brothers have proved since their 1995 debut, it’s that rollicking cow-punk can very well come from the minds and mouths of Englishmen.

On their latest effort, Freedom and Weep, the Waco Brothers—originally formed as a side project by the Mekons’ Jon Langford, one of three Brits and an Irishman in the six-man band—mash up twanging Americana and slurred, woeful punk into a high-octane attack that’s as undeniably fun as it is rough ‘n’ tumble.

It’s this take-no-prisoners attitude and double-guitar approach that lends the CD its edge, with “Nothing at All,” “Secrets” and “Missing Link” finding the band at its rowdy peak. Joe Camarillo drives much of the action with aggressive but well-timed shots at his drum kit. Tossing in the band’s politically aware lyrics, such as its take on the “master of disaster” currently residing in the White House (“Chosen One”), makes it impossible to write off the Wacos as just another ass-kicking barroom band.

Of course, their reputation as a must-see live act qualifies them for that distinction. But even when the Chicago-based band’s tunes get harder, the subject matter graver, and it seems like they’d be liable to drop the next unfortunate soul who throws a cockeyed glance their way, there’s an underlying sense that Freedom is supposed to be fun—that the next time the Wacos are in town drinks are on them.
—Dave Rossetti

Vital Source:

by Blaine Schultz
In 1965, Brian Jones insisted that Howlin’ Wolf play on the U.S. teenybopper television program “Shindig,” when his group, the Rolling Stones, appeared. This bitch slap effectively asked America: “This music was in your backyard all along. Why did you need us to tell you it was cool?”
Fast-forward to 1985. History repeats itself when U.K. punks, the Mekons, don thrift-store cowboy shirts and hand country music back to America with the album Fear and Whiskey. A decade later, Mekon Jon Langford – along with Milwaukee expatriate Dean Schlabowske and Tracy Dear riding shotgun – forms the Waco Brothers, a side project that takes a life of its own. This Chicago-based band has released a series of shit-kicker country-punk albums more in the spirit and attitude of vintage Bakersfield than Nashville’s gentility. The Wacos don’t claim to be some lithe bluegrass combo or pedigreed blue-harmony yodelers. This is equal parts thought-provoking and Saturday night music.
Freedom and Weep takes a typically pointed look at the climate in the early days of George W. Bush’s second term. It’s not difficult to read daily headlines into lyrics like “what if our history means nothing at all?” and “Daddy says I was the chosen one.” Likewise, the tune “Fantasy” draws on reality television shows. Yeah, things change. Nashville is the new Hollywood, complete with power ballads circa Def Leppard’s Hysteria serving as the template for a hit; the novelty of steel guitars and fiddles sprinkled as the pixie dust of authenticity.
With a fitting lack of subtlety, the tune “Missing Link” takes aim at the crossroads of faith, religion, science and common sense. In the end, history is going to be told by the winners, but there is always going to be a Waco Brother somewhere pointing out the emperor’s new clothes while he blows his tuneless trumpet. And when life just seems to make no sense at all, it’s comforting to realize we can count on the Wacos to pen inspired couplets like “Krakatowa east of Java/Smother me with molten lava.”

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