Horses and Asses (MakeYour OwnDamnRecords)
There are plenty of country-fried South Austin bar bands, but thanks to this collection of 15 original tunes that display maturity, humor, and subtlety, the Fencecutters rise above the mundane fray. The fivepiece sounds as if it started playing acoustically minded bluegrassy country, but then the beer kicked in, and the amps got turned up. The result is an hour's worth of Sixties- and Seventies-informed, booze-fueled, twang-powered rock, with some banjo thrown in for fine measure. Void of any Nashville pretension, the sincere delivery of "Amazing" looks to the swamps of East Texas and Louisiana for inspiration, while "LBJ" is a feedback-seasoned barn shuffle, and one could almost hear an early Seventies Jefferson Airplane doing "Runaround." The advantage of liquor-powered music is the ruff-n-ready sense of wild abandon, although it comes at the expense of tightness and fine tuning. The banjo in "L'evanie" is a welcome addition, although it and the harmony vocals are masked by loud guitars. Likewise, the band stretches their vocal abilities a bit too far in "Damnation." That said, at their best, the Fencecutters come off as a decidedly Austin version of Minneapolis' influential Gear Daddies with a female singer. While they'd be well-served by working less on amplitude and more on arrangements, Horses and Asses
is an honest album that shares their lust for life -- chicken fried chicken and tallboys included.