Country Teasers

The Empire Strikes Back

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It's been said that satire isn't really effective unless it genuinely wounds someone, and by this standard the Country Teasers must be doing something right. Their mock-indignant lyrics, which assume the perspective of a racist and/or sexist boor, are clearly meant to be some sort of grim parody, but coupled with Ben R. Wallers' bellowed vocals and the band's stark, deliberately brutish music, the Country Teasers deliver the sort of satire that can't be comfortably chuckled along with, but instead draws psychic blood from friends and foes alike. The Country Teasers' sixth studio album, The Empire Strikes Back, is decked out in a cover that lifts artwork from an academic text on racism in the United Kingdom, and appropriately enough the album's recurring theme is the thuggish but very British style of racism that came into public view in the 1970s with the rise of the skinhead movement and the National Front, though the Teasers would hardly be so flatly intellectual as to put it that way. Instead, the Country Teasers toss off muttered salvos of discontent against blacks, Jews, gays, West Indians, women, and nearly anyone else who isn't white, male, and born in Britain while musing on World War II, the Middle East, Great Britain, and the Star Wars franchise. While the music does reveal the roots and country influences suggested in the band's name, the melodies and attack are intentionally crude, as if Thee Headcoats and the Fall fell under the influence of the Palace Brothers, and there is a real gallows humor to songs like "Please Ban Music" and "Mos E17ley," though the cumulative effect of The Empire Strikes Back is to make the listener wince rather than laugh. Which may well be just what the Country Teasers had in mind.

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