Music

The Meat Purveyors: Someday Soon Things Will Be Much Worse!

Checking out what songs a band decides to record and what approach gets taken can prove illuminating. This seems especially true of those on the new album by that punk bluegrass group from Texas, the Meat Purveyors.


The Meat Purveyors

Someday Soon Things Will Be Much Worse!

Label: Bloodshot
US Release Date: 2006-07-18
UK Release Date: 2006-07-24
Amazon
iTunes

You can't judge a book by its cover, goes the old adage, and it's probably just as true to say that one can't judge a CD by its cover versions. Still, checking out what songs a band decides to record and what approach gets taken can prove illuminating. This seems especially true of those on the new album by the Texas punk bluegrass group, the Meat Purveyors. These mofos have always had an ear for the weird and the chops to pull it off. Their latest offers a virtual smorgasbord of choices. The Meat Purveyors self-penned tracks on Someday Soon Things Will Be Much Worse! are killer, but first, lets look at the non-original songs selected...

The Meat Purveyors have taken pop rock schlock and turned them into straight bluegrass-style fodder before. This serves two functions: it exposes the downright banality of hit record lyrics and thumbs one's nose at the sanctimoniousness of country music purists. The band's rendition of Foreigner's "Hot Blooded" serves as a case in point. Pete Stiles fiercely plucks his mandolin while Bill Anderson lays down guitar licks like an artist with too much paint on the palette and Cherilyn DiMond slaps the upright bass silly. Jo Walston obliviously sings the meaningless cock rock boasts as if they actually sounded macho ("C'mon baby, can you do more than dance"). The pleasure of being stupid strongly comes across, yee-haw.

The Meat Purveyors do more than take cheap shots at easy targets. At the other end of the musical spectrum is the band's version of country boy John Conlee's classic "Rose-Colored Glasses". Walston croons it with an ache in her voice as the group provides a gentle accompaniment. At times, Walston slows down the singing so much that it almost becomes a monologue on unrequited love. The band plays this with sincerity instead of for laughs. The Meat Purveyors also tweak Human League's synth pop standard "Don't You Want Me Baby" into a true country duet that wouldn't sound out of place sung by Johnny and June or Nancy and Lee. The group even makes the Monkees' "Circle Sky" into a romping ballad that would fit right in a Western movie soundtrack.

As for the Meat Purveyors' treatment of Loretta Lynn's "Fist City", Walston may not sound as mean and tough as the Coal Miner's Daughter, but you still wouldn't want to fuck with her. Walston comes across as the kind of gal who would clobber you with a chair when your back is turned. She carefully annunciates each word to let you know she's serious.

The cover songs are interspersed among the eight original tracks and fit right in because of the terrific musical talents of the band members. The Meat Purveyors write songs about drinking, bad love, death, and other dark country music topics and put them in interesting contexts. For example, the upbeat "666 Pack" does a great job of combing Jordannaires-type white gospel harmonies with lyrics about the need for booze to ease one's soul. This cut and the band's other tunes contain lots of snappy aphorisms ("Sometimes it's hard to walk the straight line before wrong and right / A uniformed policeman made me do the very thing last night") that consistently reward the listener with unexpected verbal surprises. Other tunes of note are the turbocharged "Liquor Store", the sly, nasty put-downs of "Look on Your Face", and the scornful anti-Bush political diatribe, "Plates a Spinnin'". Each of these songs are very different from each other on a surface level of tone, style, and subject but sound uniquely like Meat Purveyor tunes. If one's heard any of the group's music before, one could easily identify the tracks on this album as Meat Purveyors material.

The Meat Purveyors also go electric for the first time on a few tunes here. This doesn't come across as a radical change as it's incorporated into the band's usual style. The electric sound is most notable on "Hanged Man", a new version of the song they originally recorded acoustically on a previous album. Here the electricity helps create a current of tension, so to speak, in a place where things literally go bump in the night. The listener can't help but get jumpy by the time the narrator puts a pistol in her mouth.

With all the crap going on in the world today, the album's title, Someday Soon Things Will Be Much Worse!, may seem more obvious than prescient. If the band's prediction is right, at least we will have the solace of one additional cultural artifact to enjoy before the shit hits the fan. And the Meat Purveyors have shown us by example how to take somebody else's tunes and make them our own.

7

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.


Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09
Amazon

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less
7

Very few of their peers surpass Eurythmics in terms of artistic vision, musicianship, songwriting, and creative audacity. This is the history of the seminal new wave group

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee's yearly announcement of the latest batch of potential inductees always generates the same reaction: a combination of sputtering outrage by fans of those deserving artists who've been shunned, and jubilation by fans of those who made the cut. The annual debate over the list of nominees is as inevitable as the announcement itself.

Keep reading... Show less

Barry Lyndon suggests that all violence—wars, duels, boxing, and the like—is nothing more than subterfuge for masculine insecurities and romantic adolescent notions, which in many ways come down to one and the same thing.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) crystalizes a rather nocturnal view of heterosexual, white masculinity that pervades much of Stanley Kubrick's films: after slithering from the primordial slime, we jockey for position in ceaseless turf wars over land, money, and women. Those wielding the largest bone/weapon claim the spoils. Despite our self-delusions about transcending our simian stirrings through our advanced technology and knowledge, we remain mired in our ancestral origins of brute force and domination—brilliantly condensed by Kubrick in one of the most famous cuts in cinematic history: a twirling bone ascends into the air only to cut to a graphic match of a space station. Ancient and modern technology collapse into a common denominator of possession, violence, and war.

Keep reading... Show less
10

This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Keep reading... Show less
8

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow shines on her impressive interpretation of Fontella Bass' classic track "Rescue Me".

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow pays tribute to the classic Chicago label Chess Records on her new album Playing Chess, which was produced by Steve Greenberg, Mike Mangini, and the legendary Betty Wright. Unlike many covers records, LeGrow and her team of musicians aimed to make new artistic statements with these songs as they stripped down the arrangements to feature leaner and modern interpretations. The clean and unfussy sound allows LeGrow's superb voice to have more room to roam. Meanwhile, these classic tunes take on new life when shown through LeGrow's lens.

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

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

rating-image