The Ribeye Brothers: Bar Ballads... and Cautionary Tales

Jason MacNeil

Honky-tonkin' psychedelic rock? Oh yes, boys and girls! And how these former Monster Magnets do it is priceless.

The Ribeye Brothers

Bar Ballads... and Cautionary Tales

Label: Times Beach
US Release Date: 2005-10-18
UK Release Date: Available as import
Amazon affiliate

Psst! Are you listening? (Of course not you dolt, they're reading this!) Okay. Allow me to let you in on a little secret. Each month a huge, exhaustive list of albums up for review is sent out for contributors to pick and choose from. Even the most knowledgeable music hack will only recognize a good portion of the list, and there are some whose names just make you want to see what the heck they're all about. For me, the Ribeye Brothers are such a group. Sure, a name like that will probably create images of Hoss and Little Joe branding cattle or correcting some sort of injustice. But for these guys, it's all about the South, although it's more of a garage-ish Lynyrd Skynyrd mixed with some rockabilly and arrangements that make you want to shout "Yee Haw", watch Hee Haw, and break a bottle over someone's noggin.

The Ribeye Brothers say they have nothing to show you on, er, "Nothing to Show You", but their toe-tapping roots rock is honed thanks to the team of former Monster Magnet magnates: Tim Cronin singing and Jon Kleiman pounding the skins. It could be mistaken for Social Distortion's Mike Ness without the amps behind him, as they don't beat around the bush musically. What you hear is what you get. What they do give you, though, isn't exactly a series of rockabilly-tinged numbers that they could do in their sleep. Rather, they pushed the bar far higher by stretching back into the hazy psychedelic rock trumpeted by some thick keyboard moments. A great example of this is the quasi-Animals blueprint fuelling "Roberto Duran". And yes, it does hit you with hands of stone with its fantastic '60s pop punch and flair. The only thing separating this from being the Soundtrack of Our Lives is that lovable teddy bear tunic. Just as rollicking is the primitive guitar on "Buffalo" (not the city, but the gorgeous bison), which seems to be a CliffsNotes version of the Mooney Suzuki. The first of these that doesn't quite measure up is "We Became Snakes", a cross between the Handsome Family and Primus, as they bemoan the fact that someone has lost their job as a circus clown. Alas…

The dichotomy between the garage and the front porch style is one of the keys to enjoying this record. And it isn't that hard to do given the strength of the moderately mid-tempo "From the Floor" that could have been recorded from the floor. Finally, the garage rock and country-meets-surf groove melds into the head-banging hoedown that is "Lonesome Rhodes" as Cronin preaches to the listening congregation that we are all his people, from no good necks to mouth breathers. This nugget is where things get really kooky, but in a joyfully fuzzed-out, rave-up kind of way that makes you want to start gnawing on a tambourine. After that they gently take you down with the heady "Turpentine", complete with some backwards lyrics.

Each song is fresh and creates its own little quirky-but-catchy spin, as does "Horn of Plenty". Although not having any horns or reeds in it, the song does possess a radio-friendly roadhouse swamp rock flavor throughout. However, there are a few songs that might tend to fall off the rails too quickly, as is the case with the b-side and rather monotonous "Find Yer Own" that's a cross between the Doors and Brian Jonestown Massacre. This is atoned for with parts one and two of what is dubbed "(Interlude) Nature's President". As the homestretch comes into view, the Ribeye Brothers give us the Roy Rogers-circa-"Happy Trails" vibe on "Death or Greyhound". It seems an odd one, but given the oddness of this rock-country-psychedelic album, it's right at home.


In Americana music the present is female. Two-thirds of our year-end list is comprised of albums by women. Here, then, are the women (and a few men) who represented the best in Americana in 2017.

If a single moment best illustrates the current divide between Americana music and mainstream country music, it was Sturgill Simpson busking in the street outside the CMA Awards in Nashville. While Simpson played his guitar and sang in a sort of renegade-outsider protest, Garth Brooks was onstage lip-syncindg his way to Entertainer of the Year. Americana music is, of course, a sprawling range of roots genres that incorporates traditional aspects of country, blues, soul, bluegrass, etc., but often represents an amalgamation or reconstitution of those styles. But one common aspect of the music that Simpson appeared to be championing during his bit of street theater is the independence, artistic purity, and authenticity at the heart of Americana music. Clearly, that spirit is alive and well in the hundreds of releases each year that could be filed under Americana's vast umbrella.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.

60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

This week on our games podcast, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

This week, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

Keep reading... Show less

Which is the draw, the art or the artist? Critic Rachel Corbett examines the intertwined lives of two artists of two different generations and nationalities who worked in two starkly different media.

Artist biographies written for a popular audience necessarily involve compromise. On the one hand, we are only interested in the lives of artists because we are intrigued, engaged, and moved by their work. The confrontation with a work of art is an uncanny experience. We are drawn to, enraptured and entranced by, absorbed in the contemplation of an object. Even the performative arts (music, theater, dance) have an objective quality to them. In watching a play, we are not simply watching people do things; we are attending to the play as a thing that is more than the collection of actions performed. The play seems to have an existence beyond the human endeavor that instantiates it. It is simultaneously more and less than human: more because it's superordinate to human action and less because it's a mere object, lacking the evident subjectivity we prize in the human being.

Keep reading... Show less

Gabin's Maigret lets everyone else emote, sometimes hysterically, until he vents his own anger in the final revelations.

France's most celebrated home-grown detective character is Georges Simenon's Inspector Jules Maigret, an aging Paris homicide detective who, phlegmatically and unflappably, tracks down murderers to their lairs at the center of the human heart. He's invariably icon-ified as a shadowy figure smoking an eternal pipe, less fancy than Sherlock Holmes' curvy calabash but getting the job done in its laconic, unpretentious, middle-class manner.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.