I get lots of CD’s sent to me to review, and unfortunately I can’t review them all. And of course, a few are not worth reviewing, and I only write bad reviews in extreme cases. So I’m going to start going through my stack of CD’s regularly and at least mentioning the ones I think are good, and giving full blown reviews for the ones that really stand out.
First I want to mention a couple of folks who sent me demos. Dog Bite Harris sent me a bunch of songs with just him and a beat up guitar, and a guy who will occasionally leave comments around here, the Suicide Driver Robert Perez, now known as Junction 10 sent me some live tracks. Both of these projects had great songs, showed a lot of potential, and I hope they both take the time in the future to make full blown albums of their stuff because it’s worth it. Make sure to check out the song “Walking Sideways” on the Junction 10 MySpce, it’s good stuff.
But the CD that stood out from the crowd this time was eponymous release from The Shivering Denizens from Washington State. Man are these guys good.
The Shivering Denizens belong in Austin, TX circa 1973. They have that high energy, up-tempo feel that is full tilt honky tonk with a pinch of western-inspired swing. Think of Commander Cody with a modern day hellbilly upgrade. Sure there’s a lot of new bands popping up who want to be “real” country, but not all of them have a unique sound, and then can back it up with solid lyrics and top-notch musicianship. When you listen to the Denizens, it makes you want to say out loud, “See THIS is what I mean when I say REAL country.”
As the Denizens say, they have songs about women, songs about prison, and songs about women in prison. That pretty much sums it up. With songs like “Cell Block 69” and “Good Times at the Gates of Hell,” if at least one of the Denizens hasn’t spent time in the pokey, I’ll eat my hat. The even have a song call “Twister,” which is about a twister . . . hitting a prison. But the repetitive theme is endearing, not annoying, though one of my favorite tracks is incarceration-free “Candidate 4 Change:”
“I’m a candidate for change brother give me a dime. Help me legitimize this cardboard sign.
I’m a Vietnam Vet, I’d surely work for food. But my body’s broke I got the homeless blues.
The bank came over just to change the locks. They gave me zero down on a cardboard box.
Fed at the mission, I ain’t gonna lie. I’m gonna take the money and I’m gonna get high.”
The Denizens have played with people David Allan Coe, James Hunnicutt, and Bob Wayne. They list their influences as people like Hank Williams and George Jones, but I hear a lot of Bob Wills and Jerry Reed in there as well, with tempo and guitar tone. There is a tear squeezer on the album though, “Humptulips,” which is a great example of the maturity they approach the music with, and their Hank/George/Johnny influence.
Simply put, The Shivering Denizens are fun to listen to, and you’d be doing yourself a favor and work them into your rotation.
Oh, and an interesting side note, lead singer Ron E. Banner is also a member of the punk/metal group Zero Down.
You can preview all the tracks, and buy or download the album on CD Baby HERE.