December 10, 2009

Week 14 - Flatcar Rattlers - Which Side Are You On

Flatcar Rattlers

Which Side Are You On

Austin’s Flatcar Rattlers have quickly earned a name for themselves among music lovers based on their amazing live shows.  I was a bit concerned with that fact when I popped their debut CD into for a listen. You see, many times bands that are phenomenal live seem to fall flat when recording their sound in the studio.

With Which Side Are You On the six-members-from-six-state band has actually released a disc that stands on it’s own.  It may not be as raucous as their live show but they released a solid effort.  For those who don’t know, their music is classic bluegrass played with an upright bass and banjo but the music and lyrics pay heed to the devil-may-care punk themes.

I’d probably compare them to Hank Williams III or American Graveyard.  If I hadn’t read their bio, I’d have called the sound “Hellbilly”…but apparently their music falls under a term I’ve never heard.  It’s “Guerilla Grass.”  I think they just made that up.  At the same time…it does fit.  It crosses the line…and dances on people’s perceptions that  bluegrass can marry punk with great results.

The 13-song debut of all original material is a quick 40 minutes.  I called it quick because time flies by while listening.  “Barnroof” is a fast-paced jam about going through a flood. “River of Sin” makes no attempt to repent from a lifestyle of sin and it’s prefaced by an actual voice mail message from the Travis County Constable Office detailing an arrest warrant.  “Cannon Fodder” depicts being on the losing end of the battlefield in the Civil War era.

There are two tracks that jumped to my attention.  “Redneck/Hippie,” written by guitarist Phil King, pretty much tells the story about why the band is in Austin now.  As the song goes…
“Too Redneck for Asheville / to hippy for the coast.” 
Guys… I’ve been to Asheville. And I’ll concur…Austin IS the place for you.

“How Many Beers” is the classic drinking a break-up away song. It’s probably my favorite track on Which Side Are You On.
“I try to tell myself I’m over you / Just the way I’m so sure you’re over me / Drinking with my friends again / it’s helping me to kill my pain / How many beers will help me pass the time.”

The Flatcar Rattlers are Daniel Stokes (vocals), Brian Durkin (upright bass), Phil King (guitar), Okie Andy Bays (banjo), Mark Maughmer (fiddle), and Luther Zielsdorf (mandolin).

They released Which Side Are You On in late November and it looks like they’re taking a little break from playing, but you can check out for more information.

1 comment:

Jess said...

greatest. band. ever.