Sunday, November 22, 2015

Speedbuggy USA: “South Of Bakersfield” (2016) CD Review

Speedbuggy USA is a Los Angeles country rock band that both salutes the twang of country and really rocks. Their new release, South Of Bakersfield (their first new album in several years), bursts with energy and attitude, and features some seriously good material. Speedbuggy USA is made up of Timbo on vocals, guitar and mandolin; Seth Von Paulus on lead guitar; Brady Sloan on bass; Christos Hansen on drums; and Gregg McMullen on pedal steel. On this release, they’re joined by Eddie Baytos, Billy Pitman, Robert Columbus, Dan McNay and Bunny West.

The CD opens with “Still Movin’ On,” a song I will be adding to my road trip play list, with its lyrics about “Rolling down Highway 99.” (And it even urges, “Come on now, get that lead out,” a phrase I haven’t heard in a quite a while, but still use myself on occasion.) This is a fun rockin’ number, and is one of several tracks on this release to mention Bakersfield: “Farewell to Bakersfield, I gotta go.” And it ends with the line, “Ha ha, we got a long way to roll,” again making it a perfect tune for a road trip mix CD. It’s followed by another track that would be good to have along on a road trip, “1000 Miles From Nowhere,” with lines like, “Open road, two-lane blacktop highway/A thousand miles from nowhere/And I’m trying not to slow down/I’m trying not to lose my ground.” The lines I really love are, “I’m falling to pieces again/One piece at a time/I’m starting to drink again/One sip at a time/One tear at a time.” And I love Timbo’s vocals, particularly on those lines.

As much as I love that song, I think “Wrong Side” is even better. It’s one of my favorites on this release, and it features Bunny West on vocals. This is such a strong song. Check out these lines: “Pockets oh so empty/And my memories these days run dry/Wish I could remember the reasons why/I’ve got a little left to get by/There’s a hole in your heart.” And these, which Timbo and Bunny sing together: “I grow weak and tired/My worries weigh heavy sometimes/Wish you’d love me a little more than you hated me/Wish you’d help me a little to get by.”

Can you have a country album without at least one song about drinking? I don’t know, but “Set ‘Em Up” fits the bill on this CD, with lines like “Hurry up, I need another round” and “I drank through Sunday.” But the lines I particularly appreciate are “I’m just living like a country song” and “Happy hour ain’t happy no more,” certainly not a celebration of the bottle.

“Liars, Thieves And Ramblers” contains a little nod to “Worried Man Blues.” “Git Yer Wagon Rollin’” is a short instrumental track (but with a spoken – and goofy – introduction), and the CD then concludes with “Bakersfield,” another of the album’s highlight. “A long walk to Bakersfield/From L.A./Truck broke down forty miles away.”

CD Track List
  1. Still Movin’ On
  2. 1000 Miles From Nowhere
  3. Wrong Side
  4. Set ‘Em Up
  5. Rusted Cars
  6. Liars, Thieves And Ramblers
  7. Git Yer Wagon Rollin’
  8. Bakersfield
South Of Bakersfield is scheduled to be released on CD on January 29, 2016, but is available now as a download.

1 comment:

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