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Outback Country Vampire – 2001 (Woodeye?)

Reviewed by Andy Turner

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CDs by Jabe

Jabe Beyer's songs on his band's second effort are silly, dark, sad, funny, spooky, hell-raising, fascinating and always interesting.

Beyer and his Boston buddies play a sort of raucous bluegrass cow punk that is powered by a train beat along the lines of the Old 97's. In fact, the liner notes deem "Stupid Boy" a "total Old 97's rip-off," which it is sort of, but there a lot of worse things a band could do other than rip off the Old 97's. "Checkout Girl" is a sweet ode to salvation in a supermarket that has lines like "There's a frenzy in the marketplace/someone ran off with the scale," and concludes with a triumphant, "But I'll meet her in the bar tonight, I will/ I'll just sit on my stool and twirl/Just me and the checkout girl." "Danglin' From a Broken Star" is a terrific ballad that would be the perfect "Couples Only" song at your favorite alt.-country skating rink.

Other highlights include the bluesy hillbilly boogie of "Forever is a Long Time" and the spastic bluegrass of "Let in the Blue" and "Rocky Times Come N' Go." Terrific songwriting and playing, full of fun and feeling.