The Volebeats

Ain't No Joke

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The CD reissue of the Volebeats' debut album (originally released on the Relapse label in 1989) will probably be most appealing to those who already love the band. The production is scrappy, more like a demo than a professional recording, and the same is unfortunately true of the singing. The danger of making twangy country-rock is that unless you play really, really well, your music is going to be received as parody, and that's exactly what the uncertain vocals and clumsy two-step rhythm of "And You Know It" sounds like. Ditto for "Fool's Castle" and the plodding "Magic Town." "Everytime I Smoke a Smoke" is both better sung and better played, and "Halfway to Nowhere" is even better. Two of the three bonus tracks, however, are even worse than the missteps on the original program. Recommended for completist fans only.

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