The Defibulators, described alternately as “Hee-Haw on mescaline” and “CBGB-meets-Grand Ole Opry,” will release Debt’ll Get’em,’ the follow up to their acclaimed 2009 debut ‘Corn Money,’ on August 27th. Recorded in Woodstock with D. James Goodwin and Eli Walker and Brooklyn with co-producer Brian Bender (Langhorne Slim, Jose James), the album is an au courant, urban take on classic country, channeling the frenetic energy of their legendary live shows into tight, punchy hooks and foot-stomping sing-alongs.
From “Pay For That Money,” a pedal steel and fiddle lament about debt, to “Ponytail Run,” a dreamy ode to beauty just out of reach, the album is full of gorgeous harmonies and razor-sharp wit. “Everybody’s Got a Banjo” is a biting, 70′s swamp funk-inspired nod to the instrument’s recent ubiquity (“If you don’t know how to play it, well it still looks cool”), and “Cackalacky” is the tongue-in-cheek story of an Appalachian musician who moves to New York City to make it big in roots music.
The band’s boundless energy and infectious sense of joy onstage earned them a nod as one of Brooklyn’s best emerging bands in Vice Magazine, and a devoted following in a city not known for its love of country. “It’s most fun to play for people who don’t think they like country music,” says singer Erin Bru. Guitarist/singer/songwriter Bug Jennings agrees, adding, “There’s something about the fast-paced, frantic, neurotic energy of New York that makes our style work.”
The band garnered immediate critical notice for their debut in 2009, with New York Magazine raving that “[Bug] and singer Erin Bru slip into harmonies that recall the storied Gram Parsons-Emmylou Harris duets,” Under the Radar hailing it as “a boozy concoction worth swigging until last call,” and Pop Matters describing it as “a drunken square dance on speed.”
Paste Magazine was dead-on when they called The Whiskey Gentry a toe-tapping, steamrolling kind of band, its fingers picking deep into fields of bluegrass, feet stomping in line with a punk-inspired kick drum.” Formed in 2009 by husband and wife duo Lauren Staley and Jason Morrow, The Whiskey Gentry is a group of seasoned veterans to put things mildly, some of the finest pickers and musicians the Southeast has to offer. A recent finalist in the Chris Austin Songwriting Competition held at MerleFest, Staley's natural gifts with words and her powerful lead vocal abilities complement the bands edgy interpretation of an otherwise traditional sound. All of this, coupled with a commanding and high-energy live performance, sets the bar for the way todays country music ought to sound honest, tight, daring, and void of pretension.
Hoots & Hellmouth are a busy bunch. Road warriors to the bitter end, they’ve somehow found time to enter the studio twice in the last year to produce two records showcasing their forward-thinking roots/soul music. Their latest offering, the full-length Salt (street date 10/4/11), was recorded in their hometown of Philadelphia at Miner Street Studios with friend/engineer Jon Low (Dr. Dog, Sharon Van Etten, Twin Sister). The result speaks volumes to the evolution of a band committed to pushing their boundaries and exploring new sonic horizons.
Salt builds on the fresh ground broken on their previously released EP, Face First In The Dirt, continuing down a path of explosive creativity. “Why Would You Not Want To Go There?” kicks things off with a building intensity reflective of their passionate live performances, but tempered with well-placed flourishes of piano and electric guitar. H&H’s trademark soul vibe is thick on “Lay Low,” incorporating the stomp groove and call-and-response vocals familiar to established fans of the band. By the time the listener reaches the middle of the record, the dynamic and deep “Apple Like A Wrecking Ball” and “The Ache” drive home the point that these guys are not content to rest on their laurels. To round it all out, album closer “Being Borned Again” continues their tradition of massive group sing-alongs so vibrant the listener already feels the chills of the anticipated live rendition.
Lyrically, Sean Hoots has always endeavored to keep a keen eye on the craft of songwriting, and Salt showcases the artist on top of his game. These new songs reveal a greater depth of vulnerability and personalization unheard on previous H&H offerings. This is the sound of a writer digging deep, planting seeds and harvesting a bumper crop of thought-provoking, soul-scraping tunes.
With all the envelope-pushing found on Salt, one thing that won’t change any time soon is the band’s love of the road. Touring the old-fashioned way (relentlessly!), the band performs in all manner of venues on their own and with friends like Dr. Dog, O’Death, Heartless Bastards, Langhorne Slim, Grace Potter, etc. From rock clubs to folk festivals, they tour consistently and persistently, including triumphant stops at Wakarusa, the Philadelphia Folk Festival, SXSW, thousands of dive bars and more than a few farms in between.