fascination with Americana
is well established, thanks in no small part to the efforts of artists like
Kasey Chambers, the Greencards and Home Fires. Indeed, the extent of that
devotion has never been clearer than on Rumble,
Shake and Tumble, the descriptively titled new album from the Aussie band Wagons.
The seven piece outfit, helmed by namesake singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist
Henry Wagons, finds them fawning over their forebears (“Sometimes I listen to
Elvis/Sometimes I listen to Cash/Sometimes I listen to Waylon/But it all goes
back to the one and only… Willie…” Wagons wails on the adoring “Willie Nelson”),
but given their insurgent stomp, they’re not content to simply offer their
admiration. In fact, theirs is a staunch, defiant sound anchored by a deep
bottom end with an occasional country sway. The rousing “Save Me” encourages
sing-along participation, but the menacing glare of “Mary Lou,” “Life’s Too
Short” and “Love Is Burning” could keep the timid at bay.
While the music sometimes suggests what would happen if
Johnny Cash mixed it up with Nick
Cave, there’s a tip towards
tradition that boasts more than a hint of reverence as well. It seems a down
home demeanor and an arched attitude needn’t be mutually exclusive.
“Willie Nelson,” “Save Me” LEE ZIMMERMAN