This is an mp3 blog attempting to document the gross amount of music I listen to. About once a day, I'll post something I like. If you're a copyright holder on anything I host, get in touch, and we'll settle things in a steel cage instead of a courtroom.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Ninja Gun is actually a pretty cool name (3 Ninjas aside)

So I was lounging with my lady today listening to the new Tim Barry album (it's fucking great, believe me), and I just kind of blurted out, "why the hell are all the great contemporary country albums made my drunk punk rock frontmen?" While this is probably not entirely true - people like Keith Urban need to die in a fire - it seems true to me. Country has become chiseled twits singing pop rock with a twang added for effect...and sales. Like hip-hop, it started out as a rugged, honest representation of the times for the downtrodden poor, and now has become background music for idiots, at least as far as its mainstream face is concerned.

Of course, you could argue this is where the two diverge. Mainstream rap now represents every moron with more exhaust pipes than brain cells across every board, whereas mainstream country, it could be argued, still represents its base pretty accurately - xenophobic flag wavers who believe in the three T's of titties, trucks, and torture against foreign nationals. I have to laugh at super nationalistic country singers who pretend to be rebels. It's gotta be nice raging FOR the machine. As ridiculous as it is when someone as lame Conor Oberst stumps for a politician in between warbling about the women who broke his heart because he's a sad sack loser with ugly hair, it's far, FAR more ridiculous for Aaron Tippin's crowd to be singing "drill here, drill now!" back to him with utter disregard for their own interests. So long as someone wears a $200 stetson hat and pays cliche lip service to small towns, American-made trucks, and not letting gay people visit each other in the hospital, sales at Wal Mart will be brisk. (iPods are for arugula-downing elitists, what with their internet access.)

So maybe it's not all that odd that tattooed punks like Chuck Ragan, Old Crow Medicine Show, Hank Williams III, and so on are the only types making country music worth caring about. I've made a lot of rural drives in the past few months, and there's a reason Merle Haggard and Hank Snow sound so fucking right. When you're all alone, driving through tree tunnels and open pastures, and passing faded signs for down home cooking, "Moanin'" and "Dixie Cannonball" and "Hey Porter" sound like the most perfect things ever written. I've sat on many porches on many Southern summer nights with many cheap beers, and slide guitars and down-home tales of loss, love, and pride make more sense than the angriest metal song or the funkiest pop hit. "Six More Miles to the Graveyard" and "My Best Girl" have reduced me to a sobbing mess more than once.

So it heartens me when bands like Ninja Gun come around. Hailing from the frankly shit town of Valdosta, GA, these farmers' sons are making some of the most honest contemporary music of any genre. It's poppy int he same way Big Star is - seemingly obvious on the surface, but the more they suck you into their world, the more twisted and delicious it all becomes. "Red State Blues" is one of the best songs of the year, and its wailing lead guitar is one of the reasons. Fronted by the sweet-as-the-tea Jonathan Coody, it sounds honest as the sweat on your back at the end of your shift. The choruses are the soundtrack to shedding your work clothes when you get home, popping a beer, and reacclimating your mind to the real world.

That's not to say it isn't thoughtful. The lyrics belie the relaxing, almost familiar nature of the music, and thank god. It's nice to hear from someone who farms all day and isn't interested in singing rah-rah bullshit talking points. It's equal measure Lucero, Gin Blossoms, and the Replacements, and I couldn't be happier about the fact. Restless Rubes is one of the best records of the year, and it sounds to me like one that is going to stand the test of time. Goddamn if this isn't going to sound perfect sitting by the riverside on a camping trip.

So maybe it makes sense that the punks are making the best country music. The scene is falling apart around us. Our heroes are getting old and ragged, and the subculture we all so carefully watched and contributed to has been raided, pillaged, and raped by carpetbaggers armed with little more than mascara and faked angst, more concerned with making a dollar than a lasting piece of art. It's enough to make a soul drink more whiskey than they ought to and light votive candles around portraits of Johnny Cash. At least in death he can't get a severe haircut and shriek.

Asking Price -

Eight Miles Out -

Red State Blues -


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I never actually gave Ninja Gun a shot yet. Thanks for sharing! Sounds great. :)

12:48 PM

Blogger Ape Mummy said...

That last paragraph is Matt Taibii-good. Stellar writing on another band I haven't heard off, yet won't forget!

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Blogger Matt Ramone said...

That compliment about Tiabbi is more than enough to make me blush. He's a big influence on me.

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Blogger Jake said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

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Blogger Jake said...

Ninja Gun are the best "yet to break" band out there. I highly recommend anyone give them a listen. SMOOTH TRANSITIONS and RESTLESS RUBES are gems and the guys themselves are just as nice as humanly possible.( I got to meet them and hang out with them when they came to Toledo, OH and East Lansing, MI) Check out their myspace and order their cd, you absolutely will not be dissatisfied.

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