I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch In The House — Sounds of Dying. Out soon if not now, Suburban Home Records.
Okay, so: sometimes when you’re a teenager or a 20-something and you’re really anxious and angry all the time, and you wake up in your late 20s and you realize that all that energy going towards being angry and causing scenes and basically spewing drama all over the place just … isn’t worth it anymore. Like, you’re still angry, and you still have a sort fuse and you suffer stupidity poorly and you like things done your way or not at all, but the scenes, the fireworks, the drama, it’s just tiring. So you tone it down, you pick your battles, you sort of grow up.
That’s the best metaphor I’ve got for the new I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch In The House album. It’s not a kinder gentler SOB, because there’s no such thing — but it’s a more measured SOB, picking the right battles or the right places for the music to explode into a hash of guitars and drums, an SOB that took five years off and came back a little more polished, a little more grown-up. This is the album that they recorded just before they split, that never got released, and it’s had some time to mellow — to age. It holds everything that makes them appeal to me, the frenetic music and wailing vocals, while all the while being pulled a step back from the inferno.
And sure, SOB is most entertaining when Michael Dean Damron is screaming over his band and the music is about three beats from spinning off into complete disarray, but they’re best when they’re a step back from that, when you can hear the loss of control imminent but it never seems like a danger.
That’s what this album feels like; a spin out in a car that’s actually under control, a seemingly unsteady step on a narrow bridge that’s actually carefully considered. Maybe that’s what it is, a release date five years after what was supposed to be the sell-by date. An album that’s been shined up and smoothed over by time, in the best possible way. If you don’t like harmonicas in your punk (or punk in your country), SOB isn’t going to be for you — but when I want to rage in a restrained, grown-up sort of way, Sounds of Dying is going to be one of those albums I go to.
And let’s conclude with a pet peeve, shall we? The reviews I’ve read that talk about “Postcards & Apologies” being a step forward in their songwriting — of course it is, they didn’t write it. It sounds unlike SOB because it’s a Two Cow Garage cover. It’s a gorgeous, heartbreaking Two Cow Garage cover, but it’s still a cover. Christ Almighty, people, do your research before you look like morons. (No, really: it’s an incredible cover. Find the cover and the Two Cow original below.)
At this point, I’m pretty convinced that Suburban Home is incapable of releasing a record I hate — I believe that the record label still has a place in the world, if only because there are fantastic indie labels out there who I trust implicitly in their releases. If Virgil thinks it’s good enough for him to release, it’s probably going to be something I love.
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