Music News

Asylum Street Spankers

What the hell is it? Does it count as blues? Or country-western? Or perhaps it's all just a put-on? Whatever it is they're really doing, you can't accuse Austin's Asylum Street Spankers of not possessing an overradiating intelligence.

The band mixes folk, torch music, jump blues -- basically anything with strumming acoustics, horns and Kamel Reds, fedora-sporting cool -- into songs that reflect the wise-ass sentiments of today. Wammo, the band's washboard player and co-songwriter, captures the band's contradictions best on "Antifreeze," a song from the Spankers' most recent offering, My Favorite Record. While the music is a vibrant slice of rockabilly shake, the lyrics are as ironic as a Replacements song. "I'll kiss you through the screen door on the submarine/If you promise you'll stop eating all the cat food," Wammo sings. Later, he name-drops for attitude: "The Jesus Lizard is much too mellow for my antifreeze/Sonic Youth is much too poppy for my antifreeze." These are definitely not the musings of a "hey, hey baby" Gene Vincent wanna-be.

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Christopher O'Connor