The Cowslingers

Coast to Coast (Shake It)

Jason X
To borrow a line from comedian Bill Hicks, the Cowslingers are weekend drinkers: They start on Saturday and end on Friday. And just like the whiskey that fuels them, these cowpunk front-runners pack a welcome -- if somewhat predictable -- buzz. Greg Miller howls like a coyote in heat. Guitars burn like shots of Wild Turkey. The rhythm section rocks like a jailyard trailer during a conjugal visit. The lyrics are all about booze and the reason it was invented: women.

Granted, it's all been done before, but some things you can never get enough of: namely cold beer and hot lovin', and that's what this band is here for. These boys are well aware of how old-hat their whole approach is. "How did my life become an old country song?" Miller wails at one point, acknowledging how closely he and his band align themselves with the archetypal alcoholism and adultery of country and western.

But the Cowslingers are refreshing rather than redundant, because they do it all with a knowing wink. On the album-opening "Epic Cowboy Song," they mock a wannabe-cowboy type ("Got a cowboy hat that he won at a county fair/Wear it if he rode a horse, but he's allergic to the hair"), and they don't take themselves that much more seriously -- "I'm feeling sexy, but I'm just a joke," Miller sings on "Topeka Destroyer." Maybe he is, but it's good to hear the overbearing earnestness of country leavened with a bit of humor. And that's the Cowslingers' strength. This band seems to understand that, next to liquor, laughter is the best way to momentarily forget one's troubles. Listening to the Cowslingers, it's hard not to do just that.

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