Fans of Jay Farrar, Old ’97s and Uncle Tupelo, rejoice! The power trio of Joey Plunkett (formerly of Brooklyn-based The Weight), Brian Kotzur (drummer from Silver Jews), and Sabrina Rush (of State Champion) have picked up the torch. Country Westerns’ debut album, full of grinding riffs and half-screamed choruses, pulls elements from the basements of Exile on Main Street to the more modern influence of Ryan Adams, offering a magnificent collection of country punk. It starts hard and edgy and, really, never slows down, even if the last few tracks are slightly less aggressive–including a fascinating cover of the Magnetic Fields “Two Characters in Search of a Country Song.” (And frankly, after the first half-dozen songs, you’ll probably need a little bit of a rest!)
This might be love at first listen, but if I still love this album this much at the end of the year, I’m betting it will be in my top 10. Great stuff.
Another trio that debuted recently is Iron Wigs, which consists of Verbal Kent and Vic Spencer–two well-established, but still somewhat underground, Chicago emcees–and Sonnyjim of the UK. The lyrics are fantastic, fascinating, and often very, very funny, and the beats are loops of jazzy horns, funky basslines, and even, at the right times, flute(!) The whole thing is definitely aggressive and gritty, but it feels wholly unlike anything else I’ve heard in a long time. The trio clearly were together when they made this album, playing off each other–and supporting each other–in the way that they used to do in the days of Run DMC and The Beastie Boys.
This is a true rap team–something we don’t see near enough of these days. A fantastic record.