Sex, Drugs & Outlaw Country
If Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart built a country band it would be much like Seattle’ own kings’ of “Raunchy Tonk,” the Shivering Denizens. The quartet spent ten days in Nashville with Andy Gibson at his home studio and the result s their new album Sex, Drugs & Outlaw Country. The ten song collection is a sonic delight as Gibson (who plays for Hank Willians III) added his superb steel playing to the mix and brought in veteran session players Billy Contreras on fiddle and Rory Hoffman on piano. The Denizens have built a ravenous following with their crackerjack delivery of jacked up two step and rockabilly beats to accompany their tales of debauchery and trashy beer drinking sing alongs.
Leader Ron E Banner is in rare form here as he kicks off the album with ”Barroom Brawler,” the story of a character we’ve all seen a time or two. The fiddle joins rapid fire banjo from Lee Harvey Hartwood for the spin your partner round song of a broken hearted cowboy “Vixen Blues.” The high lonesome pedal steel arrives on another tear jerker two step about romance and drug abuse “Bubbles In A Spoon.” The tempo quickly shifts into high gear as Hank Leinonen demonstrates his wicked thumpin’ skills on the standup bass during “Crooked and Crazy,’ as Banner paints a self portrait of his life as a honky tonk hero that is no doubt a fan favorite of the band’s live show with its raise one up and shout it out chorus. The blue movie soundtrack “Cell Block 69,” must have been inspired by the Orange is the New Black Netflix series, a “song about women in prison,” or it may just be a misogynists wet dream. The lighthearted “Carnival Song,” gives Gibson another chance to show off those pedal Steel skills, and then we get a dose of old time religion during the bluegrass holler “We’re All Gonna Die.” The barrel house piano perfectly sets up the scene for the rambling “Barefoot and Pregnant,’ a great dance song about a gal who “even though she’s pretty, she’s mean as hell and gritty,” just the way the Denizens like em’.
Rick J Bowen