Waco Brothers “The Men That God Forgot”

Plenty Tuff Records, 2023

Country-Punk veterans hit the right note for today’s world.

Billed as country-punk, the Waco Brothers new album is rooted in punk but its country influences are harder to hear. That said, ‘The Men God Forgot’  does have echoes of Ennio Morricone’s spaghetti western themes and there is a nod to George Jones in the song ‘George Walked With Jesus’.

Punk’s raw edge is created by contradictions – rage at being excluded; pride in being an outsider. This album is full of contradictions.  It has the energy of punk, but punk by skilled professionals, the rawness cooked out by decades of playing in Chicago bars. The vocals are more melodic than normally expected in punk, and the harmonies a far cry from the Ramones. The great use of strings and horns adds dimensions not found in The Clash; occasionally creating movie-soundtrack depth with hints of Los Lobos.

The lyrics also contrast with the sound. There are moments of punk outrage as in ‘The Best Money Can Buy’ with its reference to the teenage shooter Kyle Rittenhouse and the opioid epidemic. But weariness replaces outrage on many songs.  “I smile through my tears,” the Brothers sing in the eponymous song, “Through the years and the miles, Whlle my songs make your heartbreak, I am nothing but smiles’”.  Variations on this theme appear in ‘If Your Heart Isn’t In It’: ‘”f your heart isn’t in it, No need to tag along, if your heart isn’t in it, Fuck it, drive on”. And it continues in ‘Backstage at the Boneyard’: “Some of us have been here way too long behind the velvet rope sinking in a river of song.’‘Play On’ is critical of audiences who just want to hear the sounds of the past: ‘The sound of Spandex and chest hair”, and ‘it’s never gonna go away… So turn it up loud, Play to the crowd, No one wants nothin’ new anyway.’” Yet there is also ‘There is No Place to Stand’ with the recognition that  “union women union men, carers and shares, you know when to make a stand”.

The musicianship is great with ringing guitar leads, a solid rhythm section and hot horns. The sound mixes well with the lyrics, creating a rhythmic portrait perfectly in tune for an audience of world-weary lovers of rock and punk. They would share the contradictory views expressed in ‘Blow My Top’: “Now, I don’t take to being told what I don’t want to hear, And I won’t deny that I take pride in turning a deaf ear, But lately I’ve been faced with truths that I can’t reconcile, So me and reality are gonna split up for awhile” and in  ‘Nowhere Place to Run’: “But believe me the fight is never over, it’s just begun”.

It is the juxtaposition of fatigue and defiance that make this an Americana album for today, probably best heard in a rustbelt bar filled with people hanging on to hope.

[bandcamp width=100% height=120 album=620019157 size=large bgcol=ffffff linkcol=0687f5 tracklist=false artwork=small]


About Michael Macy 46 Articles
Grew up in the American Midwest and bounced around a bit until settling in London. Wherever I've been, whatever I have done, has been to sound of Americana. It is a real privilege to be part of this site, discover new music and write about it.
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments