Jason Boland & the Stragglers

Squelch (Proud Souls Entertainment)

Texas Platters

The latest manifestation of modern country's honky-tonk renaissance, Okie transplants Jason Boland & the Stragglers have been hewing close to Ryman Auditorium/Armadillo World Headquarters roots for nearly 20 years. Squelch feels like a culmination of the locals' hard work: Eleven tracks of hard country the Broken Spoke celebrates nightly. Boland has a deep, round baritone, more rich than Grandma's devil's food cake and all the better to deliver his wry observations of modern life like "Fuck, Fight, and Rodeo" or "Christmas in Huntsville." Two songs in, Boland double-clutches and shifts into a potent blast of pure, unadulterated punk rock called "I Guess It's Alright," a snarling beast of a tune barking at now institutionalized celebrity misbehavior: "Go ahead, back into the wall – we knew you would/ Guess it's all right to be an asshole if you're good!"

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