The Waco Brothers
Going Down in History
Bloodshot Records, 2016

If I am not mistaken the last Waco Brothers album was years ago.  Having seen them live at a few Bloodshot BBQs, nothing seems to have changed but the seasoning has, perhaps become stronger.

“DIYBYOB” opens the album, declaring that “this is the first track from the last album,” perhaps as an obscure homage to Cheap Trick’s Live at Budakhan or the Beatles’ Live at the Hollywood Bowl, but I may be stretching things a bit. There are hints at apathy, DIY, and going on with existing, rather than living, and an election season filled with circus antics that are probably no worse than what we’ve seen in the past. This may be the closest they have ever come to a stereotypical country song.

To say that most of these tracks are radio-ready is not a disrespectful observation in this case.  Every track is under three and a half minutes and every last one raucous and irreverent as we have always come to expect from the Waco Brothers. “Building Our Own Prison” clocks in at 2:47 and comments on very strongly on the prison-industrial complex as it has become blatantly obvious to most of us, but while most of us choose to look the other way and pretend it isn’t happening, the Waco Brothers carry on a great tradition that Johnny Cash started calling attention to the evils in our own society.  While not as strong as the anarchistic commentary of Chumbawumba, the disturbances that at least one Waco Brother evinces as an expatriate Brit are most welcome.  We certainly need to have a mirror shoved in our faces on a regular basis.  If it makes us uncomfortable often enough, maybe we’ll do something about it.

“Going Down in History” is a rebellious but subdued protest to perhaps several problems we are all faced with at this point:  They never hint at feminist equality, imperialism, institutionalized racism, but the superficial elements of it, nuclear technology and others are referenced throughout.  While I may be reading more into this than I should, anyone aware of what is going on around them, cannot help but notice what is happening to this empire of greed and apathy that is getting worse.

But enough of that.  Let’s see if I can find a little more uplifting track, though all are loud, headbanging, and danceable as the Waco Brothers always are.  Alas, the search came up empty. “Orphan Song”  contains the Waco Brothers trademark raucousness within the context of loneliness, yet it speaks to what is most familiar to me, making a family out of friends where one’s family is less than perfect, toxic, or nonexistent. That makes it a happy song to many of us.

Hell, yes.  Enjoy this album with or without your boots on.  Find a friend and make a new friend.

8 May 2016

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