In the "good old days" (we're talking 1995 here), you could count on a few bands that were always certain to pack 'em in down in the basement of the old Cicero's, and one of the hardest-rocking and most entertaining of the lot was Omaha's Frontier Trust. Without resorting to the gimmicks of alt-country or the heinous "cowpunk" hybrid, the band managed to bring a sense of ruralness to its three-chord punk-rock, thanks in large part to the raw, twang-inflected vocals of singer Gary Dean Davis. Hollering and thrashing about onstage like a madman while the band ripped through their songs, Davis displayed the charismatic appeal that sets a frontman apart from a mere vocalist. Between songs, Davis displayed a humble aw-shucks demeanor, relating stories about his grandpa, his car problems or Nebraska's various college-sports teams. When everyone was done tuning, though, he'd cut in with a simple "Hit it, Bill!" and the band would dive headfirst into their next raver, whereupon he'd revert to thrashing about like a madman.Fans of the late Frontier Trust should plan to be at Frederick's Music Lounge on Friday for the St. Louis debut of Davis' new band, the Monroes. A practice tape (the Monroes have not released anything officially) reveals a sound similar to that of Davis' old band but with a touch of rockabilly and a more obvious twang factor. The Monroes may not be quite the nonstop onslaught of rock that Frontier Trust was, but they still offer moments of pure punk overdrive to satisfy older fans. The band also features guitarist Lincoln Dickison -- of the late Columbia, Mo.-based Shellac-ish punk outfit Product 19 -- who brings the occasional twist of weirdness and atonality to the songs, preventing them from falling into rockabilly predictability.
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