Yeehaw, this is as close to liking country and western I get (except for the occasional Man In Black track or two). Thank fuck bands like Wagons exist, because often times, the music of this particular genre is so much fun, it's almost irresistible, while the lyrics make me gag harder than a tight-throated hooker. Wagons, thankfully, avoid hackneyed clichés such as this in favour of lyrics of a substantially darker nature.
The main attraction of this motley band of musical cowboys is their leader, Henry Wagons, who has a rich baritone and unbridled passion for his art (sorry about that pun). Coupled with a great backing band, The Rise And Fall Of Goodtown is a listening pleasure, from the driving rock of opener Drive All Night Til Dawn, to the slow burning closer, Lightning. The track listing jumps from more traditional country-sounding songs to darker, brooding tunes and also includes a faithful rendition of the Three Dog Night track, Never Been To Spain.
Sounding like a cross between Nick Cave and Merle Haggard, Wagons has slowly but surely gained popularity with relentless touring, drawing fans not usually drawn to country music. They've also become a festival favourite, particularly known for their raucous live show, led by the big personality of their leader, whose take-no-shit attitude and humour have made him a favourite of the punters and provided the band with the title of Australia's lead alt-country act. Can't wait to see 'em.
VERDICT: TURN IT UP, little dawgy
Country that isn't, this was a Christmas present from YourZ last year and came after we saw the lead singer on RocKwiz, our favourite TV quiz show. Henry Wagons is bigger than life and has a voice to match. It's a country album for people who don't like country music - like us. Songs about trucks and mothers and how your old dog died don't feature in our collection.
But this album, featuring great tunes like Goodtown (very Stepford Wives-reminiscent) and Keep Your Eyes Off My Sister has no lyrics Nashville would condone. In fact one description I've read labels the band as Gothic Country. I can live with that - with a side order of humour and piled high with Rock. They're touring here this month and I vote we go and see them. (YourZ sez: seconded!)
VERDICT: TURN IT UP
For more information: http://www.wagonsmusic.com/