From: A site with sound

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.


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