First Appeared at The Music Box, February 2003, Volume 10, #2
Written by John Metzger
In its early days, the Waco Brothers was merely an excuse for Jon Langford to get sloppy drunk at the expense of Chicagoís many bars while passing the time between albums and tours by the Mekons, his other group. But somewhere along the way, the Waco Brothers gelled into the perfect outlet for his (along with Dean Schlabowske and Tracey Dearís) country-punk songs. True, its recordings have been largely hit-and-miss affairs that have never quite packed the wallop of the bandís concerts, but its 1999 minor masterpiece Wacoworld explored some of the subtleties of the groupís Rolling Stones-meets-The Clash fury. Late last year, the band unleashed New Deal, its sixth studio album, and while there are few surprises contained within the Waco Brothersí sonic assault, the disc is a gem, nonetheless.
Throughout New Deal, the sounds of pedal steel and fiddle soar above the honky-tonk clatter of electric guitar and bass, offering a way out of the otherwise claustrophobic madness of the workingmanís blues. The Waco Brothersí music makes for a rip-roaring, whiskey-guzzling time even as the lyrics tackle the very sociopolitical issues most people are drinking to forget. From economic hardship (New Deal Blues) to George W. (The Lie) to conservative behavior (Poison), the band leaves nary a stone unturned in its quest for righting whatís wrong in the world. "Alcohol, Freedom, & a country song/Iíve been waiting way too long," the band sings in unison on its new anthem AFC Song, and quite frankly, the Waco Brothers wouldnít have it any other way. Ĺ
New Deal is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2003 The Music Box