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The Buckets

The Buckets – 1996 (Slow River)

Reviewed by Roy Kasten

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CDs by The Buckets

Roaring like a convoy, The Buckets offer a low-fi, punk version of insurgent country. Their songs are peppered with the stuff of down-and-out Americana, from tractor trailer headlights to sprinkle doughnuts to divided highways. Earl Butter (aka Ray Halliday) sings and writes like a mod who's just discovered Buck Owens, but can't decide if he finds Buck funny or wise or both. There's something a little disingenuous in Butter's comic, nasal voice, and his irony undercuts the truckstop images and melodies. Still Wanda Taters (Carrrie Bradley) fiddle playing and harmony is mixed warmly and up-front, and she's a key to the diversity here: "Mistake #1" has an sordid Cowboy Junkies quality, while "Postmark Virginia" sounds like vintage Gram Parsons.

The CD, overall, has a relaxed, garage recording sound, with fuzzed out guitars, tinny snares and just enough background noise for do-it-yourself integrity. The inside illustration of the band as skeletons alludes to the Mekon's "So Good It Hurts" album. The Buckets have clearly learned from the Mekon's punk country, and at times take the genre in intriguing and tuneful directions.