The Cowslingers

Boot N Rally (Shake It)

Nina Gordon, with Paloalto Odeon, 1295 Old River Road, the Flats 8 p.m., Tuesday, November 28



Since forming in 1991, the Cowslingers -- brothers Ken and Greg Miller (on bass and vocals, respectively), guitarist Bob Latina, and drummer Leo P. Love -- have changed little over the course of 6 albums and 12 singles. The group has won awards for being the best local country act, but shouldn't be confused with the kind of music that passes for country these days. If anything, these guys hearken back to the time of Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash -- they're shitkickers who play with attitude and don't cater to pop tastes. On Boot N Rally, which was recorded by Don Depew at his 609 Recording studios in Bedford, the Cowslingers deliver their hillbilly blues with the fervor of the Blasters, the great roots-rock band of the '80s that, coincidentally, was led by two brothers (Dave and Phil Alvin).

While the group's affinity for western wear might seem cheesy, there's nothing on Boot N Rally that suggests the group doesn't take itself seriously. On the irreverent "You're So Delicious Baby!" it combines Ramones-like chants with twangy guitars, as Greg Miller sings about his love for greasy food and fat women. Raucous guitars rip through songs such as "Monkey Boy," "Beautiful Love Song," and "#1 Hit Record," a scathing indictment of commercial radio. There's not a dull moment -- even the instrumental "Cleveland Steamer" grinds hard, and "Dead Man's Clothes" sounds like a tender ballad until you realize it's about a guy who reads obituaries to find out if any well-dressed people have died. As good as anything by Southern Culture on the Skids or Reverend Horton Heat, Boot N Rally makes the band's self-description -- "deep-fried cowpunkabilly for losers like you" -- frighteningly accurate.

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Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected].
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