Monday, March 05, 2007

Countrypolitan Favorites

by jaydro
What I've been listening to the past week or so: the latest album by Southern Culture on the Skids, a covers collection of some of the songs that most influenced them entitled Countrypolitan Favorites. I was initially disappointed when I heard about this--their last album was a live concert album, and now a covers collection; one has to hope someone doesn't have writer's block. But I've really been digging their surprising take on songs I'm familiar with as well as several songs I'd never heard of. (Note: if you buy the CD, be sure to get it at an independent record store, where it will come packaged with a special indie-only SCOTS four-track bonus disc.)

My favorite is the old Lynn Anderson song, "(I Never Promised You a) Rose Garden." I love Mary Huff's voice--her songs on SCOTS records are always something to look forward to. Something always gets me about taking a song like that and forcing it into a more upbeat tempo.

For those unfamiliar with SCOTS you may recall their appearance as the band at the beginning of I Know What You Did Last Summer. Or maybe you heard their minor hit, "Camel Walk," which they performed on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno way back when (lyrics: "Baby, would you eat that there snack cracker in your special outfit for me, please? Baby, you make me want to walk... like a camel. The way you eat that oatmeal pie just makes me want to die!").

I've been listening to them for about 15 years now. I was hard-pressed to explain to people what exactly their music was until I saw them listed in the category of "psychobilly." That's a good description. While they may appear to be making fun of the image they are projecting, they are also embracing it wholeheartedly.

Though SCOTS is a local band I heard them first on CD, having shunned their live shows because I thought they were a straight country group. And at their live shows you might find boxes of fried chicken, biscuits, and little cups of banana pudding being passed around (uh, food has featured prominently in several of their songs; see "Camel Walk," "Eight Piece Box," and others), and a masked wrestler may also make an appearance. It is better experienced rather than described.

P.S. My other favorite local band is Two Dollar Pistols. While I don't profess to be a country music fan, I love that honky-tonk Dwight Yoakam/pre-Hee Haw Buck Owens sound.

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4 Comments:

Blogger Nick said...

This is why getting to know people through the net is so weird. Never, in a million years, would I have figured jaydro for loving hillbilly music. Seriously, never. I was figuring like Sonic Youth, or something. Not that there is anything wrong at all with loving hillbilly music, but from what I know of jaydro I never would have guessed.

Hey, this isn't bashing or anything, I'm just caught by how surprised I was.

3/05/2007 12:52:00 PM  
Blogger jaydro said...

Yeah, well, I don't think I like hillbilly music, either, thus my initial shunning of what I perceived Southern Culture on the Skids to be.

I don't think any radio stations that play country or even hillbilly music would play SCOTS, and when they had a major-label deal for a couple of records they were pushed into the indie/alternative scene, which can be pretty all-inclusive but is still a pigeonholing of convenience. SCOTS guitarist/singer/songwriter Rick Miller (who I just learned is producing the Two Dollar Pistols' next album!) said in an interview that after their second album with the big label the powers-that-be encouraged him to write some songs with the Fountains of Wayne guys (who I also like, btw), in order to appeal more to "the kids" or something like that. That was when he knew he was with the wrong record label.

Two Dollar Pistols is more what you'd call alt.country. While they love old George Jones and Buck Owens etc., I've seen stupid drunk people in the audience at their shows yell out requests for Garth Brooks or even Hank Williams, Jr. and be politely ignored.

3/05/2007 01:25:00 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

Heh. Nice.

Somewhat of a (very selective) alt.country fan also, but more along the lines of Jay Farrar and Iron & Wine. And always willing to listen to new stuff, but finding SCOTS CDs (to buy, or otherwise) is not easy in Sweden, though. Looks like it would have to be through amazon.com, and I can't afford that at the moment. Maybe if they came by here on a tour or something.

3/05/2007 03:26:00 PM  
Blogger jaydro said...

Well, at least you can stream the whole album from that link I gave. SCOTS has toured Europe before, but I'm not sure if they've ever been to Sweden.

Sonic Youth, huh? You know, I have to confess--I'm familiar with the name, and I think I've heard at least one song by them, but I can't name it, and I'm not sure if I like them, but the last time I saw Neil Young live he was wearing a Sonic Youth t-shirt, so they must be okay. ;-) I'll have to try to give them a more serious listen.

3/05/2007 11:25:00 PM  

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