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Waco Brothers 

Electric Waco Chair (Bloodshot)

A full-throated, full-bodied delight, the Waco Brothers' fifth CD furthers the tradition of the Stones, Graham Parker & the Rumour, and the Pogues. Above all, the Wacos evoke the Band. Like that Canadian-American hybrid, this British-American collective melds a variety of strains, from vernacular country to hard-charging rock and roll, for music that always swings and rings true. Unlike Jumping Jack Flash, the Wacos are proud to march and charge down the streets, yowling in dangerous, tasty harmony. This alternative supergroup is led by Jon Langford of Mekons fame and propelled by former Mekons/Rumour drummer Will Goulding. Jesus Jones alumnus Alan Doughty plays bass, and Mark Durante, formerly of KMFDM, plays pedal steel.

But pedigree isn't the reason to listen to the album; power is -- from the git, with "It's Not Enough," a post-apocalyptic meditation with brain-knitting guitar. Dean Schlabowske, the vocalist on "Make Things Happen," is a ringer for Mick Jagger, and Traci Dear, the singer on "Cornered," sounds like Graham Parker in his prime. Such familiarity makes the music accessible no matter how tough-minded the lyrics; tunes such as "Walking on Hell's Roof Looking at the Flowers" and the stirring "Fox River" speak to the gap between posture and passion, promise and performance. They also speak to the need to endure -- and always kick against the pricks. It's no coincidence that the cover illustration suggests pulling the plug on the electric chair: "Contact Illinois Artists Against the Death Penalty," the CD insert instructs. As with their music, the Waco Brothers are proud to take a stand.

More by Carlo Wolff


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