The Mekons have spawned a cottage industry of side projects, in the process creating a musical genealogy to rival any prolific 600-year-old Old Testament geezer. One of Jon Langford's many offspring is, of course, the always raucous, always ready Waco Brothers, whose guitarist Dean Schlabowske took a busman's holiday (along with fellow Wacos Alan Doughty on bass and Joe Camarillo on drums) three years ago to form Dollar Store. The trio's 2004 eponymous debut was a marvelous hybrid of The Mekons' hillbilly punk ethic, The Blasters/X torch and twang and the full throttle Americana bluster of Uncle Tupelo and its own brilliant satellites.
Dollar Store has since expanded to a quartet with the addition of the considerable talents of lead/rhythm guitarist Tex Schmidt (from German country punks the Roughnecks), and that fuller guitar sound is all over the band's sophomore album.
"Scrap Truck" shows Dollar Store in double barrel Jayhawks mode, while "Wasting Away" and "Hurricane Charley" hearken back to John Doe's frenetic X activity, "Work = Reward" finds Schlabowske channeling Joe Ely's careening Texas country blues with a thunderous bang and the title track steams along like a hybrid car carrying The Blasters and Aerosmith to a roadhouse gig behind a chicken wire fence. Even when Dollar Store slows down ("Reserve the Right," "One Red Cent, One Thin Dime"), there's an intensity that hangs in the air as though they're just idling at a light and ready to hit the gas on green. Here's hoping that Dollar Store has titled their second album prophetically.