Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Nine Pound Hammer- Hayseed Timebomb (Crypt Records, 1994)

I'd love to tell y'all cowpokes that this Kentucky-bred bunch of shitkickers coined their band after a reactionary tool used to drive Trent Reznor's industrial-lined nails nine feet into the ground.  Sure, you could rank Nine Pound Hammer alongside REO Speedealer and Jon Cougar Concentration Camp as hefty handles dumping fescue all over established artists.  The stupendous name, however, is lifted from an early country classic by the rather refined Merle Travis.  Because the fine folks in NPH were raised amongst agriculture, the twang in their bang comes across as naturally as sipping 'shine outside the general store.  Indeed, the amphetamine-laced readings of jukebox joints from Johnny Cash, Buck Owens and Hank, Sr. split the toxic shots between reverent and ragged.  Early shows at dives like Great Scotts Depot in Lexington added cover tunes from the likes of Ramones, The Clash and Eddie Cochran to the raging repertoire.  Lest you think heavy metal gets the shaft, Ozzy Osbourne receives a dual citation in the band's own "Headbangin' Stockboy" ("I'm the 'Iron Man' of the produce aisle" and "Sharing SpaghettiOs with 'Mr. Crowley'").  Conversely, an American Eagle is defeathered in the absolutely scathing "Bye, Bye Glen Frey" (sic) ["Gonna get a gun/Shoot Glen Frey/Radio's playing/Reason why"].  Pile on terse comments on religion ("Jesus or Jack Daniel's/Fuck, it's all the same to me"), family relations ("He and his brother/Married the same girl/If you're still confused...") and pop culture ("Chuck Norris is her favorite movie star"), and Nine Pound Hammer sizzle the thick-cut bacon like a suvvern-fried Dictators or a displaced Devil Dogs.  If the producers of "My Name Is Earl" had been more in tune to good music, the Smokin' Taters! collection would've been blasting outta Mr. Hickey's beater.

For the Earl in all of us, Scott Luallen (vocals), Blaine Cartwright (guitar), Matt Bartholomy (bass) and Bill Waldron (drums) team up on Hayseed Timebomb and further their tongue-in-cheek tales of backwoods behavior.  "Shakey Puddin'" runs the going-after-girls gamut from fooling around with a sister's friend as a youngin' to pondering marriage and kids later in life.  'Tween those years, the "little cad" thumbs thru his father's Playboys and puts fingers on "Catholic girls (who) like to play along."  Two slices of "Fuck Pie" are filled with the respective fruits of inexperience ("Back when I was young and naive/I wore my influences on my sleeve/Preached from the safety of my bedroom floor") and wisdom ("One day, you're gonna see/That all the powers that be/Always make enough crosses to go around").  "Skin A Buck" emanates with the joint aromas of skunk piss and cheap brew.  While endlessly perched in a tree stand, the would-be Ted Nugent slips into the stranglehold of a camo-covered coma ("Last night while I was huntin'/I fell asleep and had a dream/That all the deer had rifles/An' they were comin' after me").  The two-fisted roughneck in the title track subsists on an anti-Dr. Oz diet of crank, pork rinds and cold beer.  Profits from the sale of his worn boots are used to line the pockets of one-eyed hookers.  "Outta The Way, Pigfuckers" steers the rusty F-150 towards an off-ramp leading to pastures away from Podunk ("With your Wal-Mart gossip and country-fried philosophy/Toothless witticisms about farm machinery").  Weary truckers "Stranded Outside Tater Knob" only have a "wax museum of dead 'Hee Haw' stars" and "fat girls stripping to Molly Hatchet songs" to decompress from long hauls.  The whorehouse that "used to give special rates before the Baptists burned it down" is greatly missed.

Fun fact:  I've never eaten pork rinds.  Maybe Burger King will soon serve them in their sundaes.  That's no less bonkers than the chain selling pulled BBQ sandwiches.  WTF?

-Gunther 8544

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