Rumble, Shake and Tumble

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Australian singer/songwriter/guitarist Henry Wagons leads his country-rock band Wagons with a sense of inspiration drawn from a combination of the 1950s rockabilly legends of Sun Records and the 1970s leaders of outlaw country. "Sometimes I listen to Elvis," he sings, "Sometimes I listen to Cash/Sometimes I listen to Waylon." The song in question, however, salutes Wagons' ultimate hero, Willie Nelson. Yet, observing the American country scene from Melbourne, Wagons has achieved an ironic as well as geographical distance. While it would be an exaggeration to call his music a parody, he often seems to have his tongue in his cheek, singing in a Cash/Nick Cave baritone of love and rascality with a distinct edge, as his band plays a tough country music imbued with tones of rock, blues, and even psychedelia. This is not the sort of country likely to find a welcome in Nashville, though Austin has applauded it in successive SXSW appearances, and it should find favor with the alt-country crowd in the U.S.

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