- The Revenge Of Two-Gun Pete
The ghost of ol’ Hank Williams Sr. roars and moans and swaggers and staggers and testifies the raw-as-raw-can-be truth throughout the songs on Collisionville’s The Revenge Of Two-Gun Pete. The fact of the matter is, Collisionville has crafted a concept album here: one with a honkytonk heart all slathered in twang, swamp, blues, and crunch with a few punkish tatters around the edges. You can run with the knowledge that “Two-Gun Pete” was a childhood nickname of Hank’s – one that he hated. And you can follow the storyline of Hank’s curse haunting his tormentor’s descendants through the album’s ten cuts.
But if you didn’t know a thing about all of that, it wouldn’t matter: you’re going to like The Revenge Of Two-Gun Pete just the same.
At the core of Collisionville’s sound here is the trio of Ben Adrian, Connor Thompson, and Stephen Pride. Adrian’s primary focus is drums and percussion, although he grabs a ukulele for one tune and a guitar for another. (David Shollenbarger jumped behind the drum kit for one track on the album; he has since settled into the berth fulltime.) Thompson works the engine room hard with his bass (both electric and sweet-swooping upright) along with adding a little guitar here and some vocals there. And Pride doles out everything from Drive-by Truckerish chord churn to cool-as-shit fills and leads that often manage to combine bristly gristle with sweet jam. And that’s just the guitar side of things: he also applies some pedal steel, banjo, harmonica, and piano as needed – along with lead vocal duties for much of the album.
Right off the bat, the opener “The Ballad Of Herman P. Willis” fishtails and lurches along on a spring-banging dirt road beat, slathered with a guitar sound that’s big and fat and growly – yet backs off perfectly at the 2:20 mark to provide just-right shimmer to Connor Thompson’s bass break. The same basic song bookends the album, resurrected as the title tune in acoustic form to close things out. (Trust me: it’s no less powerful unplugged.)
In-between, we take a couple looks at faith of various sorts: Ben Adrian’s tom work on “The Devil Can’t Hurt You If You Don’t Believe” might make you recall Ginger Baker’s genius on “Sunshine Of Your Love” – and Stephen Pride’s banjo keeps “I Still Haven’t Seen The Light” smiling, no matter how tough the going gets. On “Heart Out In The Sun” there’s the yin of the first guitar break – all gravel-voiced bends, double-stops, and neat low-end twangorama – vs. the yang of the second – total J-Mascis-visits-the-Third Stone-From-The-Sun.
“Something Happened To The Milk” hurtles headlong down over the stairs with a big dose of Slim Harpo cool in its back pocket; “Dancing With A Broken Heart” (featuring some pedal steel by Pride and guest Eli Wirtschafter’s fiddle) couldn’t have been named anything else but that; “Try It On Your Horses” is all monster bass and nastily-overdriven blues harp (Pride somehow pulls off the feat of sounding like David Byrne and Magic Dick on the same song).
“No Way To Live” is total western-shirt-with-the-sleeves-cut-off cowpunk with a t-shirt worthy chorus: “It’s no way to live, but it’s the best that I can do.” And Pride’s sad piano defines the cracked soul of “These Are Not The Words” but it’s the slow waltz of the acoustic guitar and pedal steel that will tug the hardest at your heartstrings.
Collisionville might be based up on the northern end of California, but their sound on The Revenge Of Two-Gun Pete comes from right in the center of this country’s gut. You know these tunes; now go listen to them for the first time.
Brian Robbins cuts the bristly gristle with a dull knife over at www.brian-robbins.com