Chris Shiflett & the Dead Peasants

All Hat and No Cattle

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Chris Shiflett -- best-known as the lead guitarist of the Foo Fighters -- got nice and mellow on his 2010 debut Chris Shiflett & the Dead Peasants, a record that showcased a tasteful alt-country singer/songwriter with a penchant for the progressive country of the '60s and '70s. He and the Dead Peasants get a lot wilder on their second album, 2013's All Hat and No Cattle. Dispensing with good taste and, for the most part, original tunes, the Dead Peasants dive headfirst into a deliriously fun tribute to Bakersfield country, spiking it with just the slightest hint of Texas honky tonk. Shiflett doesn't choose the obvious Buck and Merle songs -- "King of Fools" from Owens, "Skid Row" from Haggard -- choosing Jim Ed Brown's "Pop a Top," Faron Young's "Live Fast, Love Hard, Die Young," and Waylon Jennings' "Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way?" as the familiar tunes to anchor the album, and some of the pleasure of All Hat and No Cattle is the casual display of deep knowledge, as the Dead Peasants dig deep for strong, forgotten '60s country, excavating such gems as the Buckaroos' "Guitar Pickin' Man," Del Reeves' "Good Time Charlie's," Wynn Stewart's "Happy Part of Town," and Dwight Yoakam's "Playboy," then throwing in a sharply written original of their own with "A Woman Like You." But most of the pleasure here derives from the loose, swinging performance of the Dead Peasants, who play with passion but little reverence. This isn't a by-the-numbers tribute where authenticity trumps all, this is a labor of love that feels like a swinging party.

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