[31 July 2000]
If The Beastie Boys were redneck, white-trash truck-driving wannabes instead of New York Upper West Side Jewish kids who wanted to be fly, rap/punks (which they actually eventually became), you might get something close to The Barnyard Playboys. The New York-based cow-punk trio’s new CD, Dumbass on a Rampage, is trailer park honky tonk that’s not much honky or tonk. It’s hillbilly punks making noise—the kind of noise frat boys sway to after about a dozen drafts. That does not mean the music’s totally worthless. The Playboys dish out the kind of opening act dreck that bands who are used to warming up for Mojo Nixon—a smart and funny songwriter—play at the beginning of a Saturday night. The CD has 18 songs on it, but there isn’t a decent tune among them.
The publicity people try to paint singer/songwriter/guitarist John Lyons as some sort of George Jones or Buck Owens. Not a chance. Lyons can come up with stupid and juvenile songtitles though. “Flat Butts and Beer Guts,” “I’m Hurt, Let’s Party,” “Terminal Case of Morning Wood” and (my favorite) “Total Feces.” I can’t trash the band completely though. Bassist Adam Freeman and drummer Joe Baxley can play fast and furious—like The Replacements and old Hüsker Dü—but not really that good.
“Pennsylvania Ditch” might be the best cut on Dumbass on a Rampage. It’s like a countrified garage rock from the ‘60s—Part Moby Grape, part Troggs. The publicity sheet says to file the CD under, “Ass-kickin’-hard-rockin’-country-punk OR Truckers gone plum loco.” I say file the CD somewhere where Dash Rip Rock fans (It’s target audience I guess) can’t find it. A ripping, chugging rhythm section is not enough to cut it boys. The “alcohol fueled conception” of the band in the ‘80s started to make more and more sense to me as I listened to each track. It may be fun for you guys, but when I listen, I just feel like a dumbass.