Sep
14

Album Review – The Defibulators “Corn Money”

September 14, 2012 - By Trigger  //  Reviews  //  13 Comments

Alright, so first what you need to do is get right with the idea that The Defibulators come to country from the outside looking in. This doesn’t mean they’re not country, or that they’re not good. It’s country with a wily, sideways grin, with just the right dollop of humor and sarcasm to be fresh, edgy, and fun, without completely stimulating a pestilence of hipsters to dart towards them on their “fixie” bikes like moths to the light.

They’re not as ironic as let’s say a Johny Corndawg. There’s no “fucking underwater in a Chevy Beretta” on this album…though there is a semi full of go-go dancers…oh, and I forgot about the story of a mountain man making love to a bear. Okay, strike that point, but what I’m trying to get at here is that there’s more substance here than tongue and cheek, but there’s still tongue and cheek. Am I making any sense?

The Defibulators build from a classic country sound infused with the speakeasy style of female singer Erin Bru, add some hot Telecaster licks, a fiddle bed, and a little Western space into an Eastern seaboard-style of revitalized neo-traditional country. Officially the band hails from New York City (Everyone together: “NEW YORK CITY ?!?!”), but there’s no need to get a rope. Front man Bug Jennings is originally from Texas as he explained to Who I Met:

I grew up in Texas…I started listening to more and more country music after I moved to New York City. It was something I really wasn’t exposed to growing up in Texas. I was definitely exposed to top 40 country, Garth Brooks and stuff like that. Which is fine. But none of that stuff related to me…I started listening to old school country and all that resonated with me. I got obsessed with it and wanted to hear more and more of it and play it. I felt like I had been cheated- this was right under my feet, figuratively in the soil the whole time I was growing up. I wanted to reinterpret it from my perspective.

And a reinterpretation of classic country in their own vision as opposed to the attempt at an accurate portrayal is what allows The Defibulators to separate their steer-horned emblem from the herd through substance and creativity. It also helps that they approach the music with a level of respect and admiration instead of seizing on it as fodder for irony. It’s music that gets it, for people that get it.

Corn Money touches on many different moods. To the sultry, flapper-era throwback “Get What’s Coming” with Erin Bru at the point, to the feisty and fun “Corn Money” and “Ol’ Winchester,” to the refreshingly-serious “Your Hearty Laugh” and the danceable “The Gravy Shake”, The Defibulators keep their style a little hard to define beyond calling it classic, and country, and engaging. They keep you on your toes, and deliver an album that has spice as an attribute.

You know me, no matter how good the album, I usually find a scab to pick at, and with Corn Money I found the production approach to be a little stifling. Many albums attempt to evoke a classic feel with a recording and/or mastering technique, and I think this one resulted in less of a patina, and more of a fog. The harmony vocals, the lyrics, and some of the instrumental performances were so good I wanted to listen with a clear ear that instead felt a little frustrated and strained. I think the music needed to be allowed to breathe more. In fairness, this album was released 3 years ago and may have felt much different to a 2009 palate.

Either way, I like this album and this band, and you will too if you approach it with the right frame of mind. In short, if The Defibulators were playing loudly in my neighbors backyard at an inappropriate hour, I wouldn’t call the cops, I’d pull up a lawn chair.

1 3/4 of 2 guns up.

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13 Comments to “Album Review – The Defibulators “Corn Money””

  • Anybody who records a song about a Mountain Man satisfying a Bear is ok in my book! Love the Defibulators!

       1 likes

  • How has this band been flying under the radar for so long?

       2 likes

    • As I was listening to the tune Defibulator I kept thinking I was hearing something verysimilar and I finally pinned it. The tone and a few of the Tele licks reminded me a lot of Whitey Morgan’s Another Round..

         1 likes

      • I never thought about that before, but you’re right! No wonder I like this band.

           0 likes

  • This album has a very retro, 50s sound to it, although the production tends to drown that out somewhat. I especially liked the music of “Your Hearty Laugh”, based on the preview.

    It’s interesting how The Defibulators attempt to emulate the Hank3 style on many of their songs. “Wrub”, “Steal Harmonicas”, “Rusty Nights”, and “Dancin Debbies” all contain extraneous sounds, a typical feature of Hank3 albums. The Defibulators are also influenced by the Hank3 vocal inflection style and even at times by the lyrics (e.g. when they talk about “drinking gasoline”).

    On a side note, I find it ironic that rockabilly is so popular in underground country music today, even though in its heyday in the 50s it was looked down upon by hard-core honky tonk country music fans as soulless dance-pop music and largely relegated to the realm of rock-n-roll instead of country.

       0 likes

    • One of the things I like about this album is I DON’T hear any Hank3 influences. Not that there’s anything wrong with them, but it’s refreshing to hear something from the other side of the world that’s still cool and “gets it.”

         1 likes

  • I bought this album back in December, after I saw them on the Muddy Roots line-up. It’s one of those albums that becomes an addiction! The Defibulators became my most-anticipated new band at Muddy Roots this year, and they didn’t disappoint at all; GREAT live band. The new songs are awesome too, and I can’t wait for a follow up to “Corn Money”!
    Funny, I don’t hear any Hank 3 influence in this band at all. Certainly a classic-country foundation, but nothing 3-specific.

       2 likes

    • Some of the songs, like “Dum Dum”, reminded me of the songs on Disc 2 of Straight to Hell. The vocals seem to be overly drawn out deliberately in order to create a sense of parody. The use of the “drinking gasoline” phrase follows Hank3′s theme of playing up the self-destructive side of human nature.

         0 likes

      • Whaaaaa? You’re making associations here that don’t connect. Overly drawn out vocals for sense of parody? You’re stretching way too hard IMO. I’ve listened to this album many times along with lots of Hank III and I do not see any obvious associations are similarities.

           2 likes

  • Old news ! Saw the band in Belgium in 2009 !!! Not bad

       0 likes

    • Second time in as many reviews they’ve been called “old news.” It’s bad enough I spend so much time writing these things and barely anybody reads them, though behind my back and to my face people are telling me all the time I’ve lost touch and don’t cover underground music anymore. How many people in the world do you think know about the Defibulators? Do you think trying to spread the word about them might help? Nevermind, back to bashing Brantley Gilbert!

         0 likes

      • Never heard of them before and I am thankful for the intro!

           0 likes

  • Triggerman, my comment was nothing personal man,I know you’re have mucho trabajo with this site
    No, I also think there are not much people who ever heard about Defibulators,
    But it is from August 2009 ago I have seen them here,so that’s old news for me.Be happy that you have at least one fan in Belgium,because here most people even don’t know about country music,ni traditional, ni underground, nothing !Here they prefer that stupid house&trance muzak,very primitive, good for some of those gorillas here,hahaha
    Btw: take a look here, this is the booking agency who let come all those unknowned bands, great job,so some of us can see some decent bands.Have a nice day amigo
    the link here : http://surfingairlines.telenet.be/

       0 likes

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