After their impressive debut The Way-Gone, Wild and Rockin’ Sounds of…, anything from the Barnyard Stompers is sure to raise an eager appetite and so it was with follow-up full length Outlaws With Chainsaws. Whereas the previous album stalked the essences of rockabilly, cowpunk, and country blues stone predominantly within its mischievous sound, the Denver based duo of Casey Miller and Megan Wise have taken a deeper dip in the country side of their passion on the new release, though all essences and more have a tasty place in the mix. It is twelve songs if diverse and distinctive dark devilry brought with a fifties rawness and twenty first century devilment.
Miller and Wise have collectively played in many legendary roots music outfits including The Hillbilly Hellcats and The Bop Kings but teaming together has arguably been their finest move and certainly as evidenced by the two albums since, meant the creation of a sound which whilst merging numerous styles has evolved into something distinct and unique to them. Soon to take their Backwoods Twang across Europe and the UK this autumn, Outlaws With Chainsaws is a mighty introduction for those yet to be infected with their ‘red-neck’ power.
As with its predecessor, Outlaws With Chainsaws is rife with the band’s black and open humour as well as vintage sounds turned into something eccentric and compelling yet true to their inspirations be that the likes of Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Carl Perkins and Hank Williams musically and also vocally. The opening title track instantly proves the point, the opening blood soaked sample replaced by a resonating rich twang from the guitar of Miller soon joined by the provocative beats of Wise. Ripe with a slow compulsive groove and throaty ambience to the sound the track lays a mix of psychobilly and cowpunk sculpting on the senses and visual evocation to the imagination. The drums of wise persistently frame the emerging red hued thoughts with accomplished incitement allowing Miller to tease discord and melodies with his guitars distinctive flavour. Though it never explodes beyond its impending dangerous breath it is an excellent start to the album and indication that we are about to have a real ride.
The following Stinkin’ Drunken S.O.B. Blues provides what its title suggests, a booze fuelled narrative wrapped in equally potent blues ‘misery’ and country bred swagger, but there are also elements of the more rockabilly aspects of say a Hasil Adkins to its engaging company. It continues the strong beginning and is soon joined in that cause by both the Cash like delivered tale of White Trash Family and Falling Down. For the first of the pair, though containing great backing vocals from Wise, it is the lyrical tale which steals the show, its story a humoured stereotypical outsider’s view of country folk whilst its successor is a slowly heated piece of emotive persuasion with hot chords and southern melodies veining a rising intensive rock embrace. It is a slow burner of a song which sounds better with each taking of its evocative breath.
For all the potency up to this point it is the tarmac rumbling Truck Drivin’ Son-Of-A-Bitch which steals the show on the album, its thumping attitude and passion guzzling energy a heavy slab of rock ‘n’ roll playing like a sixteen wheeled semi driven by The Reverend Horton Heat navigated by Carl Perkins aided by the whispers of Lux Interior. It is an excellent brute of a song finding its sinew glory in the simplicity of the drive of the duo and the dark throated tones of Miller. Its triumph is equalled immediately by the excellent Choctaw Outlaw, the flavoursome instrumental a mix of fifties craft and surf rock fire which sounds like a dessert created by a recipe created by Johnny and the Hurricanes and The Shadows with extra spice from The Ventures and The Ghastly Ones.
The likes of the country stomping Topless Tuesday and the dark hillbilly croon Corn Liquor which features just Miller’s vocals and his old timer harmonica feed the appetite further whilst the diverse Cajun reaping pair of Snake Eyed Baby and the wonderfully sinister Shallow Grave take thoughts into more openly black-hearted adventure and mischief.
The album is completed by Seein’ Double and When Death Comes Knocking; two more appealing pieces of sultry rock ‘n’ roll borne of various aural nutrients. It has to be said before hearing the release that finding out the band had gone into their country seeded imagination more on the album left a small fear inside, that genre one we have never been able to embrace, but Barnyard Stompers employ it in their ingenious way to be another, though strong at times for sure, agreeable flavour. Outlaws With Chainsaws is a great album, one which personally just misses out on matching their outstanding debut but impressively sure gives it a good run for its money.
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