By Melissa Fossum
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By New Times
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By that standard, Hogjaw's Devil in the Details is a huge success. If you didn't know any better, you'd swear you were listening to gen-u-ine Southern swamp rock. Pretty good swamp rock, actually. Devil is full of Tabasco-flavored licks and vivid libretto set to a steady churn of greasy bass lines and endearingly efficient drumming. From the cover of their record (a steer's skull, half of it painted to look like an Arizona flag and half a Confederate flag) to their MySpace page (pictures of them hunting, fishing, and shooting stuff, while wearing bushy beards and camo hats), the band has the image mastered.
Singer Jonboat Jones has a gruff drawl, cultivated by living in the "swampy woods of south Georgia, the gravel pits of west Tennessee," and Arizona. The band's press materials say he was "raised on dry-rub BBQ, bream on the cainpole, and Skynyrd band on the radio." Nothin' wrong with that. Mostly, he sings about the tried and true topics of trucker music: driving trucks, driving El Caminos, and defending the right to keep and bear arms.
I imagine the lyrics would make some cringe. "Damn old woman sold that truck to some landscape Mexicans," sings Jones. "Didn't come this far to be outdone and I gave her a piece of my mind, Until that policeman would say 'Let's take a little ride.'"
Offensive? Certainly a little. But subtle racism and domestic violence are have been making swamp rock authentic since the days of Skynyrd. If Hogjaw were lesser purveyors of the craft, it'd be exponentially more offensive, but I take it as a loyally hewn tribute to the music of the South.