Friday, June 09, 2006

Roots/Country smorgasbord at Local 506: New Town Drunks, Spider Bags, Shannon O'Connor

New Town Drunks: "Down With the Poor"
(from Trust Us With Your Car 2005. Buy)
Spider Bags: "Waking Up Drunk"
(from A Celebration of Hunger 2006. Unreleased, apparently)
Shannon O'Connor: "Ride"
(from Low In Paradise 2005. Buy)

This is the lineup for a great-looking show at Local 506 on Saturday (6/10 at 10:00 p.m., $6): a trio of bands that start from a general country/folk foundation and rough it up in various ways. I've got one song from each here, and you can hear more at their respective Myspace sites.

Shannon O'Connor is probably the smoothest of the three, and the most straight-ahead country, though tempered with a bit of book-learnin' in the lyrics. "Ride" is a sprightly song with some nice fiddling and a cool baritone guitar part. Most of her songs strike me as well-done but fairly conventional, so it's interesting to hear her do something a little darker and slinkier on "Cowboy Robot". (Listen to it here.)

I'm not sure what to make of New Town Drunks. The live videos on their web site rock pretty hard, in a Bloodshot Records sort of way. Most of the music you can hear on their Myspace site is either a sort of rootsy cabaret thing (like "Down With The Poor") or slightly kitchy singalong stuff (like "Autumn's Truck"). However it turns out, they have plenty of energy and look like they'll be loads of fun.

Spider Bags are pretty inscrutable, too, given that their hard-to-read and cryptic Myspace page seems to be their only web presence. But their music may be may favorite of the lot. The songs they have on line range from simple old-timey acoustic songs ("Devil When I Go") to rockers that make me think of Drive-By Truckers without so much Lynyrd Skynyrd ("Blood For You"). "Waking Up Drunk" splits the difference -- a country-inspired, rock-tinged drinking song.

Here's the Indy's blurb for the show (from here):

The New Town Drunks write country songs with a Latin predilection, an intoxicating swill for their friends, the commiserating drunkards. These theater-of-the-absurdly intoxicated teasers stipulate that sobriety is cheaper (but not safer) than sanity and losing your keys is safer than losing your cool. The band is having a baby (Surgeon General's warning, anyone?) and taking a break until a New Year's Eve return to fall-over form. Shannon O'Connor and Spider Bags share the bill for this O.C. hullabaloo.

When I think about it, it's kind of funny that my musical tastes have developed such that this looks like a really good show. I wouldn't have given it the time of day in college, and I shudder to think what high-school me would have said about the prospect of attending. I think one of the things that probably put me on the path to appreciating roots-derived American music was my interest in folk music traditions from elsewhere, especially Africa. Kind of a roundabout way to get there, I guess, but opening your ears is a good thing no matter how you do it.

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