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The Waco Brothers

Going Down in History – 2016 (Bloodshot)

Reviewed by Brian Baker

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Everything that Jon Langford does outside The Mekons represents a part of his creative identity that isn't addressed in the group he founded in Leeds, England four decades ago. With the Waco Brothers, Langford and his deliberately motley crew (guitarist Dean Schlabowske, bassist Alan Doughty, mandolinist Tracy Dear and drummer Joe Camarillo) have explored the nexus of punk and country, cross pollinating the qualities they don't have in common and amplifying the things they share. The raucous, incendiary tumult that has resulted from The Wacos' crash at that intersection has filled eight studio albums and a fascinating collaboration with Paul Burch (2012's "Great Chicago Fire"), but to this point, the Wacos have only occasionally accessed their astonishing live power in the studio. With "Going Down in History," the quintet has finally harnessed the live energy that was so unceremoniously and gloriously presented on their 2008 live album, "Waco Express."

"Going Down in History" jolts to life with the ringing first chords and galloping rhythm of "DIYBYOB" and its irresistible opening lyrical volley; "This is the first track from the last album/No one knows which way this ship will head/Sailors take warning, red eyes in the morning/You can't kill us, we're already dead." For the next half hour, the Wacos rarely left their hobnail boots off the gas pedal, roaring through the Bo Diddley-on-amphetamines chest-thump of "We Know It," the blistering swing of "Receiver" and the insistent tribal SOS of "Building Our Own Prison." Even their relatively lower key reading of the Small Faces' "All or Nothing" - the whole album is dedicated to late friend and Faces keyboardist Ian McLagan - bristles with an overt power that explodes at song's end, dissipating its melancholy theme. 20 years in and the Waco Brothers have created their defining album with "Going Down in History;" if you're not spent after this half-hour workout, well, there's always the repeat button.

Use it at your own risk.