What's a suicidally named band to do but make undeniably good records? In the tradition of every quirky crew that's as beloved by its audience for shooting itself in the foot as for its creative heights, Florida's Grabass Charlestons have risen to the extraordinary occasion made necessary by their own kookiness. Ask Mark Twain, the second full-length album by the Gainesville trio, is the kind of record on which cults are built. The sound -- tough and gravelly, with hardcore muscle and heartland jangle -- resembles nothing so much as the Minneapolis scruff-rock of the '80s, but with angular melodic touches that hint of more recent punk influence. The songs range from eloquent political numbers, like the pissed title track and the frazzled "What a Country," to ridiculously themed, beer-stinking rave-ups -- "Those Dirty Line Cooks Are Mysterious" comes to mind. Maddeningly, this addictive album's catchiest tune is a profanity-free summer anthem that's been christened "The Fucking Song," which is the kind of title that tends to, um, dampen airplay. Go figure. And while you're at it, go buy it.
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