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Cowboys & Aliens – 2000 (Headhunter/Cargo)

Reviewed by Rachel Leibrock

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CDs by Speedbuggy

Like contemporaries in their genre such as the Old '97s, Supersuckers etc.Speedbuggy distills the essence of its varied influences - Merle Haggard, George Jones, X, Bad Religion et al - to create a sour mash of hard luck country punk.

The band's second full-length release is a bittersweet collection of revved-up songs that keep you humming even if your heart is broken."Big Blue Sky," the stand out track, explores the desolate imagery of cross-country America to address the post-relationship blues. "Like a cowboy so far from home, like a dead night that chills the bone, I drag off the cigarette and I smile, I got no regrets," sings the sulky-voiced Timbo. "Got no future, lost my past. I tremble, will I ever last?" Throughout, this idea of traveling - always going, moving and never pausinglong enough to hurt too much - is carried with a gloomy grace. "Movin' On" is a roughhewn rocker that'll probably inspire the smashing of more than a few beer bottles. Songs such as "On Top of the World" and "All Tore Up" rip through their melody like any great three-minute punk song. It's not all attitudes, however; the gentle "Live Through This Pain" is a contemplative, mournful lament and the buoyant "Larronger" is brightened by the timeless strain of the fiddle.

Speedbuggy may not be CMT-ready but their straight-up sad sack songs should ring true with any classic country fan. (858-483-9292, Cargo)