Country Teasers

Destroy All Human Life

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In 1999 "Edinburgh's least favorite sons," the Country Teasers, made their Fat Possum/Epitaph debut with their third LP, Destroy All Human Life. Many saw it as an unusual move for a label with a roster primarily made up of aging African-American bluesmen to sign a Scottish band with a reputation for writing racist, sexist, generally misanthropic songs. However, the folks at Fat Possum were clued-in enough to know that the Country Teasers use incendiary lyrics as a way to exaggerate hot-button issues in such a way as to make obvious just how ridiculous it would be if they (or anyone else) truly subscribed to such bigoted beliefs -- exaggerated social satire much in the vein of Jonathan Swift's infamous address of homelessness, A Modest Proposal. Pristine in production and performance in comparison to earlier efforts, for the first time on a Country Teasers record, all of the instruments can be deciphered, including the addition of piano on several songs, and most of Ben Wallers' lyrics can be readily understood. Whereas the sheer racket of earlier releases would have you believe otherwise, the Country Teasers are actually talented musicians. While the winding-down music box-paced, fractured country discord is still in place, Wallers and co. (revamped following Satan Is Real Again) seem to have matured a bit on this record, taking a break from their usual noisefest to slow things down and include songs that are, at times, rather beautiful. Case in point is the album's third song, "David I Hope You Don't Mind," written in the form of letters exchanged between Wallers and an ailing musical idol, it marks perhaps the first song on which Wallers actually sings. Proving that the "country" in the band's name has more to do with classic country & western than the new wave of pop-country drivel, Wallers offers up a surprisingly effective though out of key cover of Tammy Wynette's "Almost Persuaded" (1995's Pastoral -- Not Rustic found the band covering Wynette's "Stand by Your Man"). Both songs are written from a woman's perspective, and Wallers performs them accordingly. "Hairy Wine" seems to be an anti-heroin, song in which Wallers declares "I like the swastika, I also like the Jew/I like the negro and the KKK too...The only type I don't like is you, when you are a junkie," while the oddly pretty, musically almost Guided by Voices-like, "Golden Apples" finds him pointing out flaws in his bandmates and declaring himself "the perfect image of mankind, made by god to remind him of his son." Wrapping things up is the hypnotic, nearly epic "Song of the White Feather Club Secretary." A favorite allusion of Wallers, the White Feather Club was the dubious distinction put upon men who failed to promptly enlist in the British military circa 1914. Women gave these men white feathers, marking them as cowards, as a means of guilting them into enlisting.

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