Support Local Journalism. Join Riverfront Times Press Club.

The Whiskey Ring 

Better than Some, Worse than Others

A little Googling reveals that the Whiskey Ring was an 1875 scandal that involved several politicians making millions off of federal liquor taxes — a scandal that began right here in St. Louis. There is no such conspiracy or intrigue behind St. Louis' other Whiskey Ring, a quartet with a penchant for Rust Belt rock and tear-stained Americana. To say that Peter McCoy leads the band would be a bit misleading; his voice is quiet, tentative and rarely on key, and too often it gets pushed aside by the big-sky guitars. The album begins with the shuffling, reverberating "As Big As Life," and it's nearly impossible to miss the influence of Bright Eyes. Like Conor Oberst, McCoy can seethe and warble, but where Oberst can rise above the din and take command with a howl or a well-turned lyric (or both), McCoy lacks the presence to shape these enjoyable but indistinct alt-country tunes. The slowed-down balladry of "Nouns" fares better, as McCoy doesn't have to struggle to be heard over the discordant acoustic guitar strums. The next track "Old Friends" injects some swagger and attitude alongside buzzsaw guitars. McCoy struggles to connect on much of Better than Some, Worse than Others, but the rest of the band nails the earnest, twangy sound of heartland rock & roll. "Bent All Out of Shape" muscles along like a great lost Replacements track, with jangly guitar arpeggios giving way to simple and satisfying stop-start chords. The background vocals sound like they were shouted from across the basement, and the song comes off as both raw and comfortable.

9 p.m. Friday, May 16. The Bluebird, 2706 Olive Street. $7 21-plus, $10 under 21. No phone. Want your CD to be considered for a review in this space? Send music c/o The Riverfront Times, Attn: Homespun, 6358 Delmar Boulevard, Suite 200, St. Louis, MO 63130. E-mail [email protected] for more information.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Riverfront Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Riverfront Times Club for as little as $5 a month.

Read the Digital Print Issue

January 26, 2022

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In St. Louis

© 2022 Riverfront Times

Website powered by Foundation