Interesting is the music that can truly portray a murderous romp through an old western town. When thinking of the outlaws that created a musical accompaniment to the heinous crimes committed, only the coolest bluegrass/country and punk rockers come to mind. Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers, hell’s house band, wrapped up an ambitious musical trilogy of side-shows, circus tents, and funerals just a few years back and are now hot off the release of their newest freakish effort, Agri-dustrial.
The short but explosive 40-minute album takes listeners on a dark journey filled with unrestrained chaos that tell tales of murder, mystery, liberated hobos, and an army of skeletons that lose a violent, deadly war. All of the themes and yarns come to life with the help of raw, energetic musicianship that hasn’t been seen in a band for quite some time. Frontman J.D. Wilkes shrieks and screams, croons and broods (and even yodels!) through all of this album with his trusty harmonica at his side: a true partner in crime along with his banjo and recently joined guitarist Duane Denison (of Jesus Lizard fame), of course.
Denison’s guitar work on Agri-dustrial is heavy and bluesy as all hell. Songs like “Sin Eater” and “Greasy Creek” grind, whine, and chug through a pummeled landscape destroyed by the constantly rolling drums. Banjos, harmonicas, and stand-up basses cover the rest of the sounds heard on the new album, and boy, oh boy, do they make for one sweet and evil ride.
Even when the band slightly slows down and changes pace on songs like “Hammer and Tongs” and “The Lost Cause” to create a mysterious quality, Agri-dustrial never once loses its steam. The album is fresh, innovative, and very, very exciting; it pulls from the darker qualities of past records and expands on those ideas to generate an unrelenting country punk effort. These are definitely sounds to accompany only the most bad ass of occasions.
So, when robbing a bank, looking for a gun duel or just trying to hogtie a country lass and throw her over your horse, allow Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers to compose the soundtrack to the dark and dirty western fun taking place. These guys are true hellbillies, everything Rob Zombie wanted and tried to be. J.D. Wilkes and gang deserve major respect.