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Disposable Fun, and a Bit More: Them Som’Bitches, March 22 at Bier Stube PDF Print E-mail
Music - Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Sunday, 17 March 2013 09:54

Them Som'Bitches

The title of the second track on the Asphalt Plains EP from the Quad Cities-based garage-country band Them Som’Bitches is “D.G.A.F.,” with the first three letters standing for “Don’t Give a.” You can figure out the rest, and it’s about that subtle. For good measure, the phrase turns up in the next song, too.

Despite that symptomatic coarseness, the six songs on Asphalt Plains represent a modest achievement, despair and nihilism delivered with a wink and elevated by consistently engaging performance. Over 20 minutes, the band’s shit-kicking aesthetic unerringly evokes a very particular picture: for me, aimless folks marking time in a trailer on the scrubland, with no other sign of human activity.

That’s nearly explicit in “Buzzard Ridge,” with animal-call samples taking the roles of instruments – and doing it well. I particularly like the owl, which appears to think it’s a background vocalist, and the howling. These fanciful flourishes all over the EP are a bit on-the-nose, but that’s part of their charm; we ain’t talking high art.

Even without the sound effects, though, the punks-doing-country songs suggest a dual nature: the barren beauty of the American Southwest invaded by loners with nothing better to do than drink and shoot stuff.

The lyrical content (with telling song titles such as“Cart Cowboy” and “Alcoholiday”) is largely offered in a snide, whiny, guttural voice with a practiced apathy by singer/guitarist/banjoist/bassist Josh Jones – recalling O’Death.

Yet fundamentally, Them Som’Bitches – also featuring drummer Paul Blomquist and guitarist/bassist Matt Carter on this record, and bassist Nick Eyre since then – is a good-time band, and while the basic elements of the music and songs could easily play as condescending, the self-evident joy of the band never lets that happen. The banjo and guitar playfully trade energetic licks on “D.G.A.F.,” and the lead guitar in the verses of “Alcoholiday” has a ringing, true tone over the song’s warm chug. (The narrator anticipates celebratory boozing and apparently has never heard of a hangover.)

And on closing track “Yippee Ki-Yay,” the band largely sets aside the cheeky immaturity. It’s not exactly serious, but its slow build shows greater attention to instrumental textures and colors, and through vocal delivery and musical setting it casts the title words in two different lights: somber and frustrated at the outset but finding a defiant confidence in the accelerating final third.

The song finishes the album on a note of possibility. Everything before it on Asphalt Plains is disposable fun, but “Yippee Ki-Yay” comes from a band I’d like to keep around.

Them Som’Bitches will play a record-release show for Asphalt Plains on Friday, March 22, at the Bier Stube (415 15th Street, Moline). The show starts at 9 p.m. and also feature Seth Knappen and comedian Nick Mielke. Admission is free.

For more information on Them Som’Bitches, visit ThemSomBitches.com.


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