Hickoids, Pat Todd
The Hickoids are superannuated punk-rockers (formed in Austin, 1985), not unfamiliar with the joys of consciousness-expanding substances, who embrace their Texan-ness in the same way as kindred spirits Doug Sahm, the Nervebreakers (whose frontman T. Tex Edwards records for head Hickoid Jeff Smith's Saustex Media label), and the Loco Gringos (two of whose songs the Hickoids cover on their brand new album, Hairy Chafin' Ape Suit).
The album title's one the Hickoids have been threatening to use since 1989. Consummate frontman Smith milks the chemically-fueled bad behavior for laughs on tracks like "If Drinkin' Don't Kill Me, Kill Me" and "Stop It, You're Killing Me," while behind him, the band mixes 'n' matches its genres as if Waylon Jennings' Waylors and Johnny Thunders' Heartbreakers had climbed into a time machine in 1979 and somehow got morphed together on their way to the present day.
Nothing purist about these boys; amiable scarecrow Davy Jones' wah-wah pedal (dig the Axis: Bold As Love homage that comes out of nowhere at the end of barfly's anthem "Workingman's Friend") rubs shoulders with utility muso Scott Lutz's pedal steel as though it was the most natural thing in the world. And "Cool Arrow" will appeal to folks with a sensahumour like my old housemate, who used to encourage me to stand on the porch in our majority-Hispanic Oak Cliff neighborhood and yell "Hijo de la gran puta!" at our neighbors. The cover art, by Dallas-based "outsider artist" Clay Stinnett, captures the Hickoids' sensibility nicely.
Meanwhile, over on the sincere side of the street, 14th and Nowhere is Pat Todd's third outing with the outfit he formed after logging 20 years with the Lazy Cowgirls (retaining the big beat of terminal Cowgirls drummer Bob Deagle, with original Cowgirl Keith Telligman returning to the fold on bass for this record). The Hoosier expat to L.A. connects the stylistic dots between Hank Williams and Peter Laughner and still rocks out with his heart stitched to the sleeve of his snap-button, as song titles like "Carry'n A Torch," "You and Your Damn Dream," and "Small Town Rock Ain't Dead" attest.
While Todd isn't exactly pushing back any frontiers here, there's honor in being a journeyman muso who continues to hone his craft, and there isn't a more reliable name in all of rockaroll. Ex-Sparks axe-slinger Earle Mankey provides his usual uncluttered, sympathetic production. And when the diminutive Todd -- who drives a truck when he isn't slogging around the rawk dumps -- digs in his heels and roars from the bottom of his feet over Deagle's magnificent crash and thump, as he does on "Dancin' To A Pack of Lies," one is inclined to believe him.