On We're All Nameless Here, the second LP from Kentucky Knife Fight, singer Jason Holler uses his high, twangy voice to move his band outside the outlaw-Americana sound of its debut, The Wolf Crept, the Children Slept. Although that album trafficked in ragged country and snarling blues, the new disc uses punk's energy and drive without sacrificing the band's rustic aesthetic. Quick-shot tracks such as "Expectations" pair revved-up rockabilly guitar leads with crunchy barre chords, and the resulting greasy garage rock finds Holler throwing elbows and doing scissors kicks. Kentucky Knife Fight's songs rarely have a date stamp on them (tales of rough love and whiskey-scented temptation are timeless, after all), but closing track "Snake in the Grass" spews vitriol at the government, big religion and whatever else gets in Holler's crosshairs. The sentiment may not be particularly nuanced, but these traces of boot-stomping, politically aware punk rock fit the band like a tight black T-shirt.
Budding phoneticists will have discerned that Fattback's EEE PEE is, in fact, an EP. On these five songs, the group — which is now a quartet — has streamlined its raw and playful Southern-rock style without sacrificing its endearing weirdness. The slow-burning, minor-key blues dirge "Two Rocks" gives drummer John Joern a chance to show off his smoky vocal chops. Co-frontman Dave Hagerty is more at home on the fleet-footed "White Whale," a reminder that Fattback does rockabilly rhythms and classic country riffs as well as any band in town. Last year's quite fine Canary was a stylistic tour through the band's bizarre fixations, and even across five songs, Fattback lets its freak flag fly a few times. Hagerty's "Dino" reimagines the T. Rex's extinction through an unhinged spoken-word passage. It's that kind of rock & roll paleontology that keeps Fattback fans guessing.
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