I don’t know if I’m merely getting older and my once angst-ridden punk rock sensibilities have softened, or if my musical tastes have simply shifted and/or matured. I prefer the maturation explanation (no, I didn’t intend to rhyme that), as I still do so love the whiskey-fueled nights spent screaming at the top of my lungs, fist raised, surrounded by a sea of sweating pre-pubescents and “elders” such as myself on the outskirts of a mosh pit silently nodding in agreement towards one another that we no longer care to partake of such boisterous activities.
I have loved and will always love the music and ideology that is punk rock. These days, however, I’ve come to appreciate and understand the myriad facets of a musical genre once presumed to be nothing more than four chords and a galloping drum beat.
Fifteen years ago, anyone with a collection of Fat Wreck Chords albums or a Strung Out tattoo would have punched you in the face for using the phrase “bluegrass punk.” These days, however, the incorporation of a banjo and/or any other musical instrument generally associated with country or bluegrass has become almost par for the course. But why stop at a banjo? Fuck it… Why not throw in a fiddle, washboard, autoharp and an upright bass fashioned out of an old washtub? And no, I’m not referencing Disney’s Country Bear Jamboree, idiots. I’m speaking of none other than L.A.’s Old Man Markley, who just released their latest full-length, “Down Side Up”, on Fat Wreck Chords; and all I have to say is “yee mother truckin’ haw!”
Down Side Up picks up right where their previous album, Guts N’ Teeth, left you desperately craving more of this strange new genre of punk rock that has you instinctively tapping your toes and desperately wanting to impregnate your cousin.
The banjo-laden ditty, “Blood on My Hands”, sets the tone of the band’s sophomore release and showcases the signature punk/folk/country sound OMM has both pioneered and perfected. “Come Around Here” presents a more rag-timey vibe, which segues seamlessly into the more signature OMM-sounding “Blindfold”.
Taken as a whole, however, Down Side Up is arguably more country and bluegrass than punk, but a solid release nonetheless. It may not be one of those albums you play to get fired up for a show, but it certainly would go well sitting on the porch, chewing tobacco and sippin’ an ice cold lemonade or whiskey on the rocks. Fat Mike and OMM front man, Johnny Carey, left no stone unturned in terms of their respective production prowesses.
The fact Down Side Up was the first Fat release to be reviewed by CMT Edge speaks volumes about the genre which most of the album exudes. It may be on a wholly punk rock label, but it’s far from what you’d expect. And that suits this old man just fine…