Country Teasers

Science Hat Artistic Cube Moral Nosebleed Empire

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Over the course of their career, Scotland's Country Teasers have issued albums through such well-respected labels as Crypt and Fat Possum Records (the latter an offshoot of ├╝ber-indie Epitaph). Having parted ways with Fat Possum following the release of 1999's Destroy All Human Life, the Teasers' latest effort sports the imprint of In the Red Records, known for its roster of grimy garage punk outfits like Pussy Galore, Cheater Slicks, Andre Williams, and Dan Melchior's Broke Revue (whose 2002 release, Heavy Dirt, mines a warped country & western rock vein similar to that of the Teasers). The intriguingly titled Science Hat, Artistic Cube, Moral Nosebleed Empire, or SAME for short, is a collection of rarities culled from the group's back catalog (the majority from its days at Guided Missile Records). Rather like the polar opposite of a greatest-hits compilation, the rarities collection carries with it relatively low expectations, and both types of records are generally understood to be standard-issue filler between proper albums -- simply a way of keeping a group's name active. As with the majority of these sorts of releases, SAME is a mixed bag in which quality typically lingers somewhere between being genuinely interesting and purely self-indulgent, generally leaning more toward the former. Overall, the album doesn't really throw too many curves the listener's way, as it simply offers more of the Teasers' unique brand of fractured, dirty, cheekily offensive country & western-laced noise rock.

Easily the best song on the album, and among the best of the Teasers' catalog as a whole, is the laid-back dusty trail swagger of "I'm a New Person, Ma'am," with gritty-voiced Ben Wallers' opening declaration that "I was sent by the devil to raise up Christ again/I'm only in love with myself." Other highlights include "The Last Bridge of Spencer Smith," "Only Whittlin'," and "Adam Wakes Up," the latter a sliding acoustic, almost Cracker-ish number touching once more on Wallers', um, interesting view of all things biblical (one starts to wonder whether Wallers falls into the category of musicians who rebel against religion because of strict Christian upbringings). A bit tedious at first listen, eventually instrumental tracks like "Compressor" and "Mollusc in Country" come across quite well, as explosions of guitar noise and various other sound effects make it seem that the Teasers' have abandoned their Hank Williams records in favor of albums by Devo and a warped copy of Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music. Earlier CT releases found the boys turning in quite striking covers of tracks by Tammy Wynette like "Stand By Your Man" and their rather haunting take on "Almost Persuaded." Though it seems like an interesting twist on the same theme, SAME's inclusion of the Teasers' take on Ice Cube's "We Had to Tear This Motherfucker Up" is amusing, but a bit disappointing, as Wallers halfheartedly mumbles his way through it rather than really tearing into it in typical CT fashion. At 20 tracks, the CD version of SAME is a rather generous serving of Country Teasers oddities. Still, for those not so easily satiated, the vinyl release features a staggering 40 songs sure to make you laugh, cry, take offense, and perhaps even boogie a little. A bit much for a novice to absorb, SAME will probably prove most appealing to those seeking to complete their CT collections. Newcomers would be well served to track down a few slightly more accessible older releases to get a feel for the music before immersing themselves in the unmitigated weirdness of SAME.

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