Album Review – Hank3’s “Brothers of the 4×4”
The first observation that must be given about Brothers of the 4×4 is just how much music is included here. The album contains 16 songs—a big bushel to begin with. But then factor in that out of those 16 songs, 9 of them are over 5 minutes, 7 of them are over 6 minutes, 3 of them are over 7 minutes, and one, which happens to be the opening track, clicks in at 8:34. Forget scaling music for radio play, Brothers of the 4×4 is the country music equivalent to a rock opera, with wide, sweeping, monster undertakings of music, playing out grooves with fiddle, banjo, and guitars trading breaks until their exhaustive end. This approach in itself is an expression of creativity and a new direction for country that is more akin to a Frank Zappa, or Grateful Dead approach, but without the heady, or space jam baggage.
And according to Hank3, he wrote, recorded, mixed, and mastered this entire album, along with a completely separate punk album called A Fiendish Threat in 4 months. Though this may be unusual for the country crowd, this isn’t unusual if you go back and look at the output and approach a Frank Zappa would take with his music for example. And that’s the vein this album should be taken in—one of a late 60’s, early 70’s experimental project as opposed to a straight-laced 3-chords and the truth-type approach to 3-minute country songs.
READ:Hank3 Talks New Album “Brothers of the 4X4”³ & More
But the breadth of the project lends to Brothers of the 4×4‘s biggest problem, which is the same problem with many of Hank3’s latest releases: quality control.
If this album was boiled down to maybe half of its current weight, and just a little more time was spent on whatever was left, you very well may have a 2 guns up, 5 star album here. But because you have to wade through a decent amount of chaff, and because Hank3 goes to similar wells so many times, by the end of the album he is showing his hand in places, and your ears are physically tired. At the same time Hank3 achieves some moments that harken back to his golden era in the early and mid 2000’s, while still forging new ground and achieving new marks that he will struggle to meet in the future.
Beyond the volume that Hank3 seems to be trying to achieve, there are two main issues keeping him from putting out another landmark album. The first is that he continues to insist on using the same consumer-grade Korg D1600 tracking machine that he recorded Straight to Hell on nearly a decade ago, even though there are much better means for home recording that would in no way impinge on his DIY, home recording philosophy. The continuance of the D1600 era casts a film on all of his recordings from its inferior technology, while still not giving it the warmth an analog recording affords, which is the “new” old way of making records.
Second, he’s not writing songs, he’s writing music, and then putting words on top of that music to make songs. Or at least this is the way the priority of things comes across in the music. We see the appearance of the same tired phrases and themes that felt original and fresh on Straight to Hell, but now are beyond tired. But to Hank3’s credit, there seems to be fewer of these songs on Brothers of the 4×4 than you would expect. Hank3 exists in a very unique niche of music, where he takes bold, creative leaps sonically and structurally, while sometimes residing in a very predictable place lyrically. The most unfortunate part of this is it clouds people’s perspectives from seeing just how progressive and downright groundbreaking Hank3 can be, evidenced on the other half of his last country record, Guttertown. His core audience is hellraising rednecks, and this isn’t the place you would traditionally look for progressive country being pushed to its cutting edge.
Another big point to make about Brothers of the 4×4 is that it is very, very country. His famous yodel makes a reappearance, though it is run through a megaphone-sounding filter to help bolster the tone. Maybe the album’s greatest achievement is once again striking that balance he struck so well in Straight to Hell, where he brought his punk and metal influences right up to crossing the line, but still kept the music solidly country. That accomplishment is what won Hank3 the widest audience in underground country, and he does it again on this album.
When it comes to the songs themselves, Brothers of the 4×4 is somewhat of a mixed bag, but with more good points than bad. “Broken Boogie” is downright epic, and must be named in the same breath with Hank3’s other signature songs. Unlike some of the album’s other 6 and 7-minute tracks, the lyrics are actually an asset instead of a detriment, and the song achieves an infectiousness and depth that sucks you into a fully-immersive musical experience. The sparse, mandolin-driven “Gettin’ Dim” is the shortest song on the album, but holds just as much boldness as it’s longer counterparts. I kept waiting for the 8-minute opening track “Nearly Gone” to turn boring, but it never does, driven by Hank3’s rediscovered yodel. “Possum in a Tree,” though in no way a deep or meaningful song, is still one of the album’s fun ones, featuring banjo legend Leroy Troy.
On the other side of the coin, “Hurtin’ For Certin'” just may be one of the worst songs Hank3’s has every written, with completely contrived lyrics and music set in a register that is unflattering to Hank3’s tone. Songs like “Toothpickin’,” “Outdoor Plan,” and the title track “Brothers of the 4×4” are big offenders of going to the whole “runnin’ and gunnin'” and “lookin’ for a good time” set of themes that have become Hank3’s substandard signature. But something about their approach on this particular album makes the lyrics either more tolerable, or at least forgivable, because the music is just so much fun. This is a fun album more than anything, and the listener should approach it as such.
Yes, Hank3 is as an isolated and disconnected artist to the rest of the music world as you will ever find. When he’s not on tour, I picture him perpetually mowing his lawn in east Nashville with his fingers in his ears, unbeknownst to the groundswell of resurgent roots artists that is happening right in his own neighborhood. Would he benefit from some slightly new equipment and a few more voices in the room as he’s recording? No doubt, and this is not because he lacks creativity or fresh ideas, it is because he doesn’t. But just like we all do, it takes feedback and collaboration to see those ideas come to their most ideal fruition, and compromises should be made to make those collaborations possible and foster an environment of growth.
But whether it is because the expectations are lowered, because the album is more country than his last, or because Hank3 has found a way to re-ignite his creative spark, Brothers of the 4×4 symbolizes a retrenching of Hank3 as a creative force in country, capable of generating inspiring moments in music. It’s just a shame you have to dig somewhat to find them.
1 1/2 of 2 guns up.
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October 1, 2013 @ 8:59 am
First, let me give y’all a heads up: Brothers of the 4×4 and Fiendish Threat are on sale for a mere $6.99 each over at Amazon mp3 for a limited time. Cheap price to load up on about 2 1/2 hours of Hank 3.
Crazy thing, I just saw him live this past Sunday and was really impressed with the few cuts he did from Fiendish Threat. I snapped up both albums last night and have been giving it more play. However, I’m initially happy with Brothers of the 4×4 especially after being pretty disappointed over Guttertown / Ghost to a Ghost. I have to say, he puts on a show like nobody else. Then his hospitality afterwards was awesome as well.
I was just curious what your thoughts were on the Fiendish Threat release even though it is not a country album, or will you be reviewing it later?
October 1, 2013 @ 9:17 am
I may do a review of “A Fiendish Threat” in the future. Lots of albums to review, and out of respect to the country crowd, I have to make the country stuff a priority. I need to listen to it a little more to feel comfortable giving any opinion about it.
Something I was going to delve into with this review vis a vis the Frank Zappa / Grateful Dead comparisons is that both of those guys had strong cult followings built off of the strength of their live shows. The Grateful Dead had a slew of stinker studio albums, but because they put on one of the best live shows around, it didn’t matter. I think Hank3 resides in a similar place. Whether you think his albums are stinkers or not, you will find very few people, if any that are “meh” on his live shows. He is a live performer, and that is one of the reasons his draw has continued to be so strong, even though he lost his label support and as some people say the quality of his albums have diminished.
October 1, 2013 @ 9:00 am
I was not going to buy this album because the title struck me as this album will be lacking in depth and that he will not experiment with his music as much as he did on Ghost to a Ghost. Your review just confirmed my fears of the lack of depth. However, your explanation of his music intrigues me. After I hear a couple. Of songs off the new album I am definitely open to buying it now.
Thanks for the review
October 1, 2013 @ 9:21 am
Whatever concerns you or anyone else have about this album are probably founded. At the same time, all concerns aside, this is a really fun album to listen to. Sure, there’s a few tracks to skip, but if I was a Hank3 fan, I’d drop $6.99 on Amazon just to get the best tracks.
And by the way, I agree Hank3 could have done a better job representing his music than the title and cover art he chose. This review got so damn long there was some things I wanted to say that I left out.
October 1, 2013 @ 9:06 am
I’m as big of a fan as anyone but songs like Hurtin’ “For Certain” and “Toothpickin'” seem like forced laundry list “Outlaw Country”. I can imagine him sitting at his desk in front of a blank sheet of paper, thinking “Well, I gotta do something”.
October 1, 2013 @ 9:25 am
One thing I’ll say for Hank3 is that for all his predictability, at least he resides in his own mythos. I don’t think he’s chasing any trends, or watching what other people are doing and copying it like were seeing with all the laundry list songs in the mainstream. He’s just short of ideas lyrically, while composing these badass songs he wants to record. If he would just be a little more patient and let the game come to him, his lyrics could dramatically improve.
October 2, 2013 @ 1:52 pm
Yeah, I agree about his lyricism. I have pre-ordered his two new albums from his website but haven’t yet received them. My favourite 3 album is Lovesick, Broke and Drifting and the lyrics on that are stellar. It seems to have been a downward spiral since then. Some of his lyrics are downright silly.
October 2, 2013 @ 6:13 pm
Lovesick is my favorite too. 5 Shots of Whiskey is about as perfect a Country song as I have ever heard. Love, love, love it!
October 1, 2013 @ 9:23 am
Overall I like this album quite a bit. The music is really good. Thanks for pointing out the substandard lyrics. I think that’s been an issue for Hank 3 for quite awhile. Also I have to point out that the title track is a lets party out in the woods in our pickup trucks song. That clichÃ© is no longer just relegated to pop country
October 1, 2013 @ 9:27 am
Yeah, but this is in line with what Hank3 has always done. I resist the idea he’s chasing the laundry list trend, because in my opinion, Hank3 has absolutely no idea what is going on in music outside of his basement recording studio.
October 1, 2013 @ 9:57 am
I don’t doubt that he’s unaware of that trend and isn’t chasing it. But the fact is the song is a laundry list truck song. So if so many of us are calling out those songs we still need to call this out. Hypocritical to say I hate those songs but since Hank 3 is doing it that’s OK cause he’s not chasing a trend
October 1, 2013 @ 10:13 am
No doubt, and that is why I have been critical of his lyrics. Just wanted to point out that there’s a difference between trying to do what is popular, and maybe being too caught up in your own internal dialogue.
And at the same time, there’s songs on this album where the lyricism isn’t a problem and is downright good. He’s just made it so easy for us to latch on to the bad stuff.
October 1, 2013 @ 10:06 pm
I read your comment with Trigger a few times and I am not sure I agree with people who says such things about Trig and Three. I’ve read negative reviews about 3 from Trigger on more than one occasion. True, what is abundantly clear in the voice of his writing when giving Three a negative review is that it is not easy for him to do. Nevertheless, he seems to muster up the courage and is usually spot on in his negative review of 3’s work. I suppose anyone who can read is able to pick up on this, including Shooter’s fans. That perhaps might not sit well with them since we do not sense that same apprehension in his writing when he is force to give Shooter or other artist a negative review.
That said,Trigger have to maintain justice and be objectionable in his position but I don’t. As as far as clichÃ© is concerned, it is true that many of what we call clichÃ© on this site appears to be more acceptable when coming out of 3s songs. Today, singing about trucks, going out to the woods and dogs are considered tired themes, but for decades these have always been country themes and no one ever complained until now. Well that is until a guy with expensive designer jeans, and not one, but two earing, start singing about them. A guy that looks like he gets regular facials and only come to the country to shoot his videos.
Even though I’ve read several positive reviews here about SJ, I do agree this site is not a Shooter-friendly site I however, do not believe it is Trigger’s fault. It is Hank 3’s fans. My firat intro to Shooter was from a fan who posted a picture of Shooter in a long white mink coat and make up. I was only able to recognize him because the strings had described what he was wearing. I have to agree I LMAO when I saw it. And yes, it. was hard to take the words “mother f*&?%ing gunslinger,” or even to believe the words, “do you feel me punk.” So to me, these outlaw or country themes have lost their weight because of the singers who is singing them. Now you look at Hank3 who while being a virtual unknown artist went up against the giant Curb records and told them to F&?* you in perhaps the most bodacious F&%? you in the history of the world. All without the public backing of his powerful father. Then almost simultaneously he took on the grand ole opry, a job that I think should have been his daddy’s. Now if a guy like that can sing a song about being a ______ gunslinger, I would say you darn straight. That coupled with the fact that we all know he got guns, he hunts, he got a truck. So yeah while we might be tired of hearing these themes from anyone including Hank3, at least from him it is more palatable because this is in fact his life,
Trigger if you’re reading this, I like the new album. I like most of the songs, not all. However, I Definitely agree with your concerns.
The hillbilly muslim
October 2, 2013 @ 5:59 pm
Sonas. People change . You should see Waylon pics when he played with buddy holly. Shooter does a lot for the underground scene. You should see the joy on the faces of some of the artists shooter helps out like Scott Biram and husky brunette when shooter is mentioned. They know he is a great guy and the real deal. I do agree with you that the hank 3 hate is unfounded . How many country songs you heard about drinking and broken Hearts. You can argue that is cliche but it’s good music that speaks to us . For those with a metal and punk background hank 3 speaks to us.
October 4, 2013 @ 1:25 pm
Just want to say a couple of things here.
First, I’m not sure that Kevin or anyone else brought up Shooter or any supposed bias, etc, though maybe he did previously and I just didn’t see it. Nonetheless, I appreciate the words Sonas.
One thing I think it is very important to observe with this review and the subsequent comments is how civil all the criticism has been taken. I had a lot of negative things to say about this album, and so do a lot of people. But at no point did anybody lose 1) their respect for Hank3 2) Lose their respect for everyone to have an opinion. This is the difference between the polarizing environment surrounding Hank3, and the polarizing environment surrounding Shooter. If you simply ask whether it is fair for Shooter to charge $85 for meet & greets, you run the risk of being ostracized, and receiving death threats. As much as one of the narratives that has surrounded this album has been Hank3’s unwillingness to solicit feedback, when people give negative opinions about Hank3 or his music, no witch hunt ensues, no accusations fly. It is simply understood that everyone has an opinion, and they’re usually different.
If you cultivate an environment where any and all criticism and dissenting opinion is met with spite, or even worse, when that opinion is attempted to be suppressed with intimidation, threats, lies, etc., you are going to create a cloistered environment that is going to continue to contract and become stale, whether we’re talking about Hank3’s studio environment, or the environment surrounding Shooter. There is a reason Shooter is seeing crowds half the size they were 5 years ago, while Hank3’s crowds have stayed steady, and it’s not because Hank3 has been putting out the best music of his career.
October 1, 2013 @ 9:28 am
I’m getting the album this afternoon. I’m looking forward to hearing it, though I fear, as has been with recent albums, it will run over the same tired themes, even using the same old phrases and lines again and again, over and over, ad nauseam, repeatedly, repetitiously, monotonously, etc….
While I find it noble and refreshing that Hank III is pretty much holed up in his cabin most of the time, isolated from the outside world, when he isn’t on the road, it might do his songwriting some good if he were to have some new experiences. Maybe he should go live in Europe for a couple months, or sail around the Caribbean. Reading some great American novels or history might help, too.
October 1, 2013 @ 12:13 pm
…or at least in the woods on other people’s property as he did with Leroy. Folks that are makin’ music for themselves between shine runs rather than mp3 releases.
October 1, 2013 @ 9:39 am
I can relate to him. I’m a workaholic and I’d rather do something a little shoddy than sit on my ass. It seems like he was thrown off his rhythm when his drummer got sidelined for shoulder surgery. This CD comes across like a “Make Work” project.
October 1, 2013 @ 9:41 am
I loved it. It flows really well to me. The music/instrumentation is phenominal. He isn’t Joseph Huber with the lyrics but he writes good songs to drink beer to which is why his live shows are so great. Perfect album for what it tries to be, to me anyhow.
October 1, 2013 @ 9:42 am
OK, I’ll buy it – good enough review for me. I was getting excited at moments in the song previews on Amazon.
You know in some ways he is just like his dad. I’ve heard Bocephus brag so many times about how he “wrote that song in about 3 minutes.” The problem is, lately, it sounds like it took even less than that. Shelton commits the same sin in the other direction. While he speaks about how creative he is, it becomes an excuse to release bloated, unfocused, repetitive albums. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
I think another problem he’s running into is that the instrumentals, while at times top notch, are getting repetitive, too. There’s only so many ways you can rearrange these chords and couple them with blazing picking. So many riffs and runs sound like older songs at this point.
My single biggest complaint about every album since STH is the quality of the vocals. As you point out, we can do better than that now, even DIY. I hope at some point we get a clean (sonically), introspective album of timeless songs.
Regardless, if he comes around my area this time around, you bet your ass I will be at that show.
October 1, 2013 @ 10:01 am
I agree some of the Johnny Hiland-style licks are getting old even though he’s a phenomenal player, and that was happening even before this album. But there’s some fiddle, banjo, and guitar runs on this album that beat all. I actually thought the players did a good job not allowing themselves to be exposed when they were asked to play so much on 16 songs that probably average 6 minutes long. That’s a lot to ask from any player.
October 1, 2013 @ 9:50 am
I think there’s a little whitewashing by folks it comes to the first few albums 3 did. Lyrics have always been the weak point and even his best songs usually contain a clumsy line or two. Nothing on this one made me cringe at least…except for “nothin like the feel of Virginia’s vagina.” Get a grip, man.
As for the repetitive phrases, they don’t bother me. At this point he could probably trademark a few of them and that’d be fine by me.
All in all, love the album.
October 1, 2013 @ 5:24 pm
“Virginia’s vagina” and the humming that SYn666 mentioned were two of the most unfortunate decisions of the album. The other is “Hurtin’ For Certin'”.
October 13, 2017 @ 11:05 am
His lyrics aren’t weak, they’re plain and true. You’re putting stupid requirements on him where there need not be any. If you don’t like it screw off
October 1, 2013 @ 9:58 am
Trig, really good review. I hope Hank read your review with an open mind as oppose to a, “I don’t give a f*?& what people think disposition.” I will not receive my CD until Thursday, but no matter how I feel about the CD, I believe this a pretty powerful review.
October 1, 2013 @ 10:23 am
I gave this effort a C. Hank really needs a producer or someone to reign him in. Repeating the title of the song on every track 36 times is lazy and uninspiring. One song I thought was promising at the start was Outdoor Plan and the song is ruined by 3 humming the melody, IT FUCKING RUINED IT. I will give more listens but I am once again very disappointed and have been a fan for a very long time. I’ll always be a fan but supporting him and spreading the word on how “amazing” he is is coming to an end…. 3/4 of a gun….
October 13, 2017 @ 11:07 am
What the hell crawled up your ass and made you Hank’s teacher grading him and whatnot? Who are you? Who listens to you? Who cares what you think? Hank’s doing just fine doing his thing, and a lot a lot of people love him exactly how he is.
October 1, 2013 @ 11:25 am
Good enough. I’m buying it.
October 1, 2013 @ 11:26 am
A lot of times, songwriters write about what they know. Muddin, drinkin, druggin, and partyin seems to be what he knows. Or at least what he was into. It is quite possible he has settled down, but going on past experiences…….
October 1, 2013 @ 12:50 pm
Excellent review. “Brothers” is a lot to absorb. A Fucking LOT. I appreciate the excess he has been giving us post-curb as it gives so many something to latch onto and I can see how this might annoy those looking for a tighter package. I get a lot of replay out of his stuff and I spent countless hours on disc 2 from “STH” (ahhhh back in the days before I owned an iPod and would use an actual CD player) as well as the fine specimen of kickassery that is “Guttertown”. I’m still breaking this one in but I can already see some big standouts here that will play great for autumn evening cookouts/ beer drinking.
Not sure where I stand on the idea of him making any changes to his recording style since I see both sides of the issue. Yeah it would give things a little more “oomph” but I’m happy with it as-is. I’m all done not making sense here but I do have to say that the “fiendish threat” is a damn-fun listen as well.
October 1, 2013 @ 1:05 pm
Really don’t like the “fuzz” effect over all his vocals. Even worse on the “fiendish threat”
October 1, 2013 @ 5:26 pm
Not sure if that is an effect, or just the result of an inferior recording process.
October 1, 2013 @ 1:09 pm
Just finished listening to the album all the way through and got to agree with the criticisms. Overall lyrics are a bit weak, and few stand out songs. I would love a whole album from him that sounds like Possum in a Tree, even though it is harkening to Hank Sr and I know Hank3 doesn’t want to live in his shadow. I also enjoy it any time Hank channels Porter Wagoner, so Ain’t Broken Down is one of my favorites as well.
As with a great deal of Hanks other albums, it usually takes a few listens for the songs to grow on me. Hank3 dwells upon many of the same motifs and themes over and over again. I felt like Ghost to a Ghost and especially Guttertown offered a reprieve from some of this. In my opinion, Guttertown was his most creative album that broke new ground. Brother of the 4×4 is a bit regressive in my opinion, with the exception of a few standout tracks.
As a hardcore fan, I had to buy it. It isn’t terrible, but is probably my least favorite album at the moment. That said, it is listenable and still enjoyable. I wouldn’t recommend it to casual fans, and even hardcore fans may be a bit underwhelmed by the album.
October 1, 2013 @ 1:18 pm
Brothers of the 4X4 gives me a feel like it’s a mix of STH and Rebel within. some songs are really good but others not so much.
The Hillbilly Muslim
October 1, 2013 @ 1:42 pm
Ha, Like what you said that he needs to do something about the quality control. Seems like any art people do to long tangents. I definitely prefer a long album over a short one to know i got my money worth. But some albums i finally can see are too much. I loved Ghost to a Ghost album though. Kind of got bored with it after awhile but it was a good ride I enjoyed. I surely cant wait to download this from amazon today.
October 1, 2013 @ 2:22 pm
You know what… I have listened to the album at least 5 times now and the more I listen to it, the more I like it.
I think 3’s biggest problem is us fans…
What he does musically is so different from every other artist out there that it leaves our heads spinning wanting and craving more.
In other posts I have stated that some of the songs ideas if combined with other songs on the album could be amazing rather than giving the “demo tape” feel that at times I walk away with when listening to 3.
With that said, sifting through the “ok” songs to get to the gems can disappoint people, however I think we can all agree the “good” is amazing and I wish he had a producer that he respected to help him decipher the CD ready songs from the B sides.
I don’t understand criticism of the Ghost to a Ghost/Guttertown albums. Essentially it’s two albums of material for one albums price. If you can’t pick out 10 songs off that album that doesn’t satiate your Outlaw needs, you need to move on from 3.
IMO G2G is a kick ass album
Hank Williams III – Brothers of the 4×4 | Driftercountry.com
October 1, 2013 @ 2:42 pm
[…] is Brothers of the 4X4 van Hank Williams III uit gekomen. Helaas heb ik het gehele album nog niet kunnen beluisteren. Maar […]
October 1, 2013 @ 4:40 pm
Having just listened to the first few songs on my commute home (after purchasing the CD this afternoon), I’ve got to say that I feel the vocal effect on ‘Nearly Gone’ is really disappointing. I believe the yodel would have given me chills had it been raw and natural, instead the effect makes it muffled, distorted and annoying. I almost wonder if Hank 3 was trying to mask his higher register, which is a shame. Anyway, just my two cents – looking forward to digging in to more of the album.
October 1, 2013 @ 5:33 pm
My first thought was the effect on the yodel was to hide its weakness, but here live and unfiltered, it sounds pretty good.
October 1, 2013 @ 4:41 pm
It seems to me 3 is putting out so much music at one time to get out of his contract…..with himself….
October 1, 2013 @ 5:30 pm
You don’t win any awards for volume these days. There’s just too much music out there and people are too busy to try to flood the market in an attempt to get people’s attention. Better to put out an album of 8-10 songs and really hone in on making them shine.
October 13, 2017 @ 11:09 am
His approach is different. He has many fans and we like him the way he is. The simplicity is easy for us to relate to. If we want some intricate sensitive country we’ll put something else on. Want an easy good time…Hank3 every time buddy.
October 1, 2013 @ 5:47 pm
I’d say it’s a deliberate effect, either an actual effect or a combination of eq filtering and overdriving the vocal channel. The Korg D1600 wasn’t the best digital recorder even when it was new, but generally the instruments have sounded pretty good on Hank3’s self-recorded albums. The vocals were a bit distorted and “lo-fi” on Straight to Hell, but at times the vocals were clear and the instruments always shined. It could come down to the vocal mic he’s using, although he obviously has decent mics for the instruments. He’s used that vocal sound again on all of his country albums, but there have been certain songs where the vocals were clear and more polished. I think it’s a deliberate choice. On the new release, it does at least bring to mind memories of really old recordings, which has a certain charm but at the same time it can be overdone. Hank Sr probably wouldn’t have chosen to make records that sounded that way but it was the best that could be achieved in the early 50s.
I do really like what I’ve heard of the new album so far – some rehashing of cliched lines, but for some reason in a more old school country context it doesn’t bother me. The last few albums have sounded more modern in their arrangement, and the flaws were just more glaring to me on those records. Hank3’s lyrics have tended to get more repetitive since Straight to Hell. Even on LB&D and STH, he covered and re-covered a limited number of themes that were not new or groundbreaking, but he wrote some really good songs on those records in the process. STH was a major milestone creatively, and as far as DIY production and the arrangements and scope of that project. LB&D was more traditional, but he wrote some nice lyrics on that album, like on 5 Shots of Whiskey or Callin’ Your Name. He’s capable of really pulling out some good material lyrically that doesn’t require a disclaimer that lyrics aren’t his strong suit. He’s had a few songs like that on every album, but this one seems to have more than the last few.
October 1, 2013 @ 6:38 pm
Seems like when he first started releasing music he was trying to make the best music he could to stand on its own. Not to ride off his family’s name. Now it seems like he is just mailing it in and riding off the reputation he made for himself all those years ago.
He really does need to bring other people in. Sing songs other people have written.
October 1, 2013 @ 7:17 pm
He definitely does not need to bring in other people to write his songs for him. If you truly think that then I think u have missed the whole message 3 tries to put out with his music. New album is a lot of fun. Thanks 3 keep em coming.
October 4, 2013 @ 1:52 pm
I agree that he does not need to bring someone in to write his songs for him. Although I do believe it wouldnt hurt him to at least be opened to that idea. What I, and so many people are hoping to do is discourage his one man-is-an-island-mentality. Personally, I think he should allow his band to be a part of the creative process, and not just one or two members, all of them!! I like this album for the most part. However, some little things that slipped past him, wouldnt not have slipped past five people. I am going out on a limb and say I see corroboration with the song, Possum in a tree. Why, I have no complaints. I love it! That said, I must admit I really like this album. It is a good album. But it could have been a great album, with minor tweaks here and there. Which in my opinion, is inexcusable.
October 1, 2013 @ 9:37 pm
I don’t remember the last time I bought an album with 16 tracks on it? I’ve never been to a concert where the artist plays 5 hours and every time shakes everyone’s hand at the end of every show. Last time I saw him I apologized for flipping him off and he said ” That’s alright man, George Jones asked me one time why do all the kids now-a-days want to flip me off all the time, I said ‘that’s just their way of saying I love you’ ” to say the least he was not offended. Hank says he loves coming to Montana not only because, he loves the Big Sky, but because he can “SAY” whatever he wants here in Montana and that is truly why he has the following he has, Hank 3 is a bad motherfucker! If you think otherwise you can kiss my ass!
October 2, 2013 @ 4:51 am
No one has a problem with the man himself. That’s not the issue here. We all love and respect 3. The issue his is his quality of music, specifically Brothers of The 4×4.
October 2, 2013 @ 7:40 am
What is quality? Something you enjoy right, out of all respect for Hank and everything he has done for all of us, criticizing his quality seems a little harsh. And reading some of these blogs some people seem to have a problem with him, can he make the perfect album that will meet your expectations?
October 3, 2013 @ 1:39 pm
Buying new equipment costs money. Touring costs money. Last time I checked he had some of the lowest ticket prices out there because he wants all of his fans to be able to go. He also lets us know when his music is on sale and encourages his fans to get together, buy one copy and burn the rest. You want him to buy expensive new equipment? Send him some money.
October 2, 2013 @ 5:55 am
I respect Hank 3 a huge amount,I listen to him,I’ve seen him live and he kicks ass! But I haven’t really been into his new stuff he’s putting out,I understand he’s experimenting with new sounds and genres,that’s great,but I think like you said trigger there’s a lot of new DIY equipment out there he could use. I’m not a big fan of the effect he’s been putting on his voice either,I could see doing that with some songs but everyone it kinda gets old. I think he needs to perfect a good number of songs and release them,I think he has too many projects he’s working on. But more power to the man he’s a legend and has always gone against the grain,and that’s why we love him!
October 2, 2013 @ 7:58 am
Like I expected, there are a handful of songs I think I really like on this album and a good chunk that I can do without. My initial impression is that I’ll end up playing songs like Nearly Gone, Lookey Yonder Commin, Possum in a Tree and Broken Boogie about as much as any songs 3 has ever put out. Although I would certainly prefer another STH where I can play it through without wanting to skip songs, it’s a good day to me whenever 3 puts out a new album b/c I can always find a few songs that make it worthwhile.
My wife was laughing at the lyrics of “Possum in a Tree” and asked why he would write a song about that. I said because it’s something he’s experienced and that’s what songwriting should be about. I’ve seen a possum in a tree a few times. But I damn sure haven’t experienced a field party with models dancing on my daddy’s tractor getting drunk on moonshine while preparing to walk barefoot and skinny dip in the local creek. Sigh. This laundry list shit is getting so old I don’t even like making fun of it anymore.
October 2, 2013 @ 4:16 pm
I really need to give this album one more listen – all the way through. After 1 round, I felt that the stronger tracks are more towards 2nd half of the album.Man, I know H3 has it in him, he’s done it before. My review as of right now – 30% of the music threw me off guard, in a good way. Felt like 80% of the time, I knew what H3 was going to say before he sang it. I’m usually more about the music vs the lyrics, but I would like to see H3 knock out some verbs that would knock listeners on their ass.
October 2, 2013 @ 8:34 pm
I’ve listened to it twice now all the way through and I really like it. It’s not my favorite album so far but it’s a fun listen. I loved Held up, Ain’t broken down, and dreadful ride (I relate to it). I have a few minor grievances like the hum on Outdoor plan and the effect over his yodel but overall it’s a great album. Then again, I liked GtaG/Guttertown so you might write me off as a Hank3 mark. There’s things I don’t like on both albums but overall, I feel like I got more than my moneys worth on both. If you only like StH or LB&D, put em in and fire em up because I doubt there will ever be any others like them.
Also worth noting: ‘Fiendish Threat’ is good….like, really good. I didn’t like cattle callin or A.D.D. but this is way more accessible. Only listened once so far, but absolutely loved it.
October 2, 2013 @ 8:46 pm
Oh, and I’m suprised nobody’s said anything about this yet, and I could be mistaken here, but I didn’t hear one swear word on the entire album. He even went so far as to say the word “bleep” instead of the word “fuck”. It was strange.
October 2, 2013 @ 9:04 pm
October 3, 2013 @ 5:54 pm
Shit and cunt are present
October 3, 2013 @ 4:54 am
He should’ve hired a jew harp player for “The outdoor plan”
October 3, 2013 @ 8:29 pm
Such an awesome CD, right behind Strait to Hell for me….a little repetitive but such a great CD. Fiendish Threat also blew me away….can’t decide which one I like more. Keep it up brother.
October 4, 2013 @ 12:56 pm
Je suis un fan franÃ§ais de Hank 3 donc les paroles ne sont pas ma prioritÃ© mÃªme si je fais des efforts de traduction lorsqu’un chanteur est rÃ©putÃ© pour la qualitÃ© de ses textes. Pour tout le reste, la musique, l’attitude, Hank 3 est si unique que je ne saurais me priver de ses productions.
J’avais adorÃ© Ghost to a ghost, en fait j’ai adorÃ© la plupart de ses disques et celui ci ne me semble pas (3 Ã©coutes seulement) infÃ©rieur aux autres. La prÃ©sence d’une guitare Ã©lectrique en picking lui donne un petit cachet “rock sudiste” -as we says in my country- sur certains morceaux et l’ensemble m”™apparaÃ®t comme une sorte de petit miracle dans la production aseptisÃ©e du moment.
I’m crazy about Outdoor plan (i can sing it perfectly 🙂 Ain’t broken down, Broken boogie…
Le seul reproche que je ferais Ã Hank 3 est de n’avoir jamais fait de tournÃ©e en France.
So, the beatles sings obladi oblada and the world (not mine) scream to genius, after that, Hank can sing what he want ! I don’t give a damned !
October 5, 2013 @ 8:23 am
A fiendish threat killed it. Definitely my favorite of the albums. Broke jaw especially. The more I listen to brothers of the 4×4 the more I like it. I will always support Shelton and all artists from our genre. Artists don’t paint pictures to please the mass.558698266
October 5, 2013 @ 9:03 am
Great review. I think you nailed it with your observation that he’s writing music, not songs. I love the album musically, but a lot of the lyrics are just boring. 4 or 5 I really like and that’s it. Love FT though. I don’t mind the vocal effects or the sound he gets out of the Korg, I just wish he would take on some different subjects but I know the rebel pride, living free shit is red meat for his base. Throw in a good producer and I think he would be cranking out excellent albums.
October 8, 2013 @ 2:23 am
I like the album more and more everyday. While it’s true that he repeats phrases or lacks depth in his lyrics I believe this album is very strong and I personally cannot wait for more.
October 20, 2013 @ 2:28 pm
Great stuff. As for the tired lyrics…who cares? Id be disappointed hearing anything else. Hanks lyrics are genuine and some of us live that way…hard. Over and over. Yes sir.
October 25, 2013 @ 6:06 am
Anyone know if that’s Les Claypool on bass on ‘Dreadful Drive?’ It’s certainly got that effect that he uses almost constantly these days, but maybe Hank 3 just picked it up from him. I bought it digitally so I don’t have liner notes to refer to.
November 4, 2013 @ 11:06 am
If III dug deep inside himself for some feelings that made him who he is, I think he’d get a whole new feel for his lyrics. Seems like he is writing about what people expect him to be, or what he thinks he should be.
So many cleche surface lyrics. His music is diverse enough each time out, I never get tired of the fiddle and banjo and steel, from album to album and it’s done well enough to hold some tight lyrics to the test. I’d like to hear a song that touched on the relationship with his Father, or CURB, or an ex-girlfriend, just not in that typical “FUCK YOU” sort of way. Take the other side of it…write it from their perspective. Nothing wrong with staying true to your roots and your core audience, but it is only going to wear so long before it just wears out. Eventually some of those ‘Rough and Rowdy’ are going to stop doing coke, quit drinking, and possible grow up a bit…or die in jail (not buying CDs). It seems like III has taken the David Allan Coe approach to his imaging. “Fuck everyone…I’m a bad ass”. But listen to some of DAC’s earlier lyrics…some brilliant, brilliant introspective shit in there. As Bad Ass as DAC ever came across, some of his lyrics sound like they were written by a teenage girl dumped on prom night, David never seemed to be afraid to get in touch with his feelings inside, and didn’t give a shit who heard about it. THAT is a true bad ass.
I asked DAC a few years ago what he though about Hank III, he told me the story how III told him that he’d cried the first time he’d heard “The Ride”. I asked III about it later and he sort of blew it off like he was just a young kid and seemed a bit embarrassed. Shit…that song made me cry the first time I heard it. Seems like he may hide some of that stuff lyrically. I’d like to see him let some of that out.
Will see III everytime he comes through town, great performer, and good to his fans…hope some of the advice from all these posts gets to him.
November 5, 2013 @ 6:31 am
I, Mah Own Damned Self, would like to assert what a Great Fucking Album Rebel Within is, contrary to the ‘critics’ who continue to dismiss it or just outright ignore it. Ah’m reserving mah opinion on the last two because Ah feel we’ll all be floored by the next one when everything coalesces/coagulates into a unified approach between the genres where 3 resides. We’re on the precipice and 3 “ain’t even started to hit his Hellbilly stride”….
June 10, 2014 @ 3:50 pm
HAVE ANY OF YOU SEEN HIM???
ok pretty simple hank has been getting better and better, older shit was fuck you outlaw shit and i think its the best…… but he is amazing in every sense still even gutter town and cattle callin’ . 4×4 is fucking awesome and you guys should write songs instead of giving the best or worst reviews…
I’ve never did a review online in my entire life! but y’all piss me off cuz you wish u could control the dude!, HANK 3 FOR LIFE!
idk why i posted this it doesn’t even matter haha
June 10, 2014 @ 3:55 pm
Andddd hahah……… possum in a tree is not as literal as it seems think about the whole album that way, HE SHREDS A FUCKING MANDOLIN C’MON GUYS!
October 13, 2017 @ 11:02 am
You complainers make me sick. Armchair professionals. Squares the lot of ya. Crawl back into your boring suburban lives and whine among yourselves. Such petty insults to music that ain’t wastin’ no time on fussy boring picky annoying big-headed yappers. SHUT UP.
If you don’t like his music then go listen to something else. If you think you can do a better job than him and his damn band HA I’d like to see that let’s see who likes your high and nightly crap nobody wants to relate to.