First Appeared at The Music Box, May 2004, Volume 11, #5
Written by T.J. Simon
Dean Schlabowske of the Waco Brothers — he’s the one that’s not Jon Langford — has formed a new band called Dollar Store. As one might expect, the music sounds a lot like the insurgent country of his primary band without Langford’s distinctive Welsh accent. Throughout the Dollar Store’s self-titled debut, Schlabowske’s voice doesn’t exactly soar, but it doesn’t need to when the music sounds like Crazy Horse-meets-Merle Haggard. For those diehard Waco Brothers fans hungry for more material, Dollar Store offers the perfect salve, and although the collection doesn’t stack up to the superior albums by the Wacos, it only misses the mark by a hair.
The best moments of this eponymous debut happen on tracks like Button Up and Enemy, which form a fusion of country and punk and are centered upon blazing slide guitars. Throughout the disc, Bloodshot Records’ utility infielder Jon Rauhouse contributes pedal steel, Hawaiian guitar, and banjo, and his fast-finger pickin’ just about steals the show on New Country and North Central Plain. Additionally, American music legend Dave Alvin (The Blasters) also takes a guest guitar solo or two. If this debut is remembered, however, it will be for the straightforward country remake of Cher’s mega-hit Believe ("Do you believe in life after love?"), which never descends into parody thereby showcasing Schlabowske’s talent for arranging a tune. The last four cuts on the disc fall a bit flat due to the limitations of Schlabowske’s vocals, but at no point could any of the songs on this enjoyable debut be described as weak or merely Waco-lite.
Dollar Store is available
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2004 The Music Box