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The Waco Brothers

To the Last Cowboy – 1996 (Bloodshot)

Reviewed by Don Yates

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CDs by The Waco Brothers

The Waco Brothers are an alternative-country side-project led by Jon Langford of indie-rock band the Mekons and also including Steve Goulding of the Mekons, Dan Schlabowske of Wreck and Tom Ray of the Bottle Rockets. Langford especially is no stranger to country - his love for the music led him to steer the Mekons in that direction. The album is punchier than the Mekons albums, but the fusion of indie-rock toughness and country melancholy is the same, as are- biting political lyrics. The album begins with a fine galloping instrumental called "Geronimo" before careening into the militant, working-class anthem, "Plenty Tough - Union Made." Other highlights include the title song, a symbolic portrait of the country's virtues perverted through capitalist excess, Langford's take on the Republican "Revolution," "Bad Times (Are Comin' Round Again)" and the rollicking sing-a-long, "$ Bill the Cowboy."Not everything works - love and heartbreak aren't the Waco Brothers strong suits, as songs such as "Sometimes I Wonder" and "K.T. Tennessee" prove. But there's plenty more country kick and lyrical bite here than Music Row churns out in an average month.