The Waco Brothers have been standing at the corner of punk urgency and Three-Chords-And-The-Truth country for 20 years now. They started at a time when it was deemed patently absurd to mix the two types of music, but the Wacos knew the score; they are different sides of the same coin, the personal wrapped in the political. And instead of travelling calculated creative boulevards during their career, the Waco Brothers have explored dark alleys and winding gravel paths through nine releases, all with the headlights off and the pedal to the metal, worrying (or not worrying) about end results later. With a body of work known for the indelicate and raucous, this may be their most deliberate and punchy yet—no one’s more dangerous than a man with nothing to lose. The title can be read two different ways, after all.
With a devil-may-care attitude towards polish and finesse, Going Down in History captures the thrill ride rush of the Waco Brothers’ live shows. Through the improvisational and fluid approach they adopted at Chicago’s Kingsize Sound Labs with longtime collaborator Mike Hagler at the knobs, the songs took on a muscularity and cohesiveness of an album unlike any previous Wacos recordings. Their pioneering Cash-meets-Clash jet engine mash up is still there, to be sure, but the Wacos have turned their well-scuffed boot heels towards their roots as never before. They have gone back to the future, down in history to celebrate and transform that which came before them.
The Snails are an eclectic act whose work, though identifiable with definite genres, defies generalization. Having spent previous years exploring and writing in the style of mid-century Jamaican music (ska, rocksteady, reggae) the group now brings influences as various and distant from each other as American garage rock and rhythm ‘n’ blues to the forefront of their original sound. Their songs are lyrically poignant (“poetry dressed with tune”), their rhythms aggressive, and their performance electrifying. Catch the beat, and you’ll never be able to put it down. The Snails are fronted by Todd Fausnacht on guitar and lead vocals, with Ben Parry on bass, Tim Hildebrand on guitar, Josh Parry on drums, and Matt MacLeod on organ.