By Danny R. Phillips
Country music as a genre, in my self-deluded opinion, has been on a downward, pop-infused shit spiral since the 1990s Garth Brooks era, culminating in the current supremacy of Carrie “Screech” Underwood and Taylor “Let’s Go To The Mall” Swift.
I feared all was lost, that the world would be contented with pop songs passed off as country because they contain one of the following things: a fiddle, a steel guitar, or the word “y’all.” Then I heard Holly Golightly & The Brokeoffs latest release No Help Coming. Rejoice traditionalists; this record is for you.
Holly, a longtime collaborator with the likes of Jack White, Mudhoney, The Greenhornes, and punk rockabilly band Rocket From The Crypt, has done her best over 30 albums (No Help Coming is her fourth full-length with The Brokeoffs) to make true, honest heartland country with a dust bowl sensibility. Her voice, at once rough and gentle, blends the earnestness of Loretta Lynn and the sultry fire of Peggy Lee. Interestingly, it would take a woman from England to come around and lead a charge of traditional American style. But hey, I’ll take it where I can get it.
No Help Coming combines country, soul and the blues to convey feelings of loss (the strikingly beautiful “River of Tears”), frustration with a lazy man and his hangers on (“Get Out Of My House”), and the stupid summertime choices will all make when the beer flows (“You’re Under Arrest” a tune that hearkens back to “Starkville City Jail” and “Flushed from The Bathroom Of Your Heart” Johnny Cash-style humor). Covers also fit perfectly within the album’s landscape such as Whisperin’ Bill Anderson’s “The Lord Knows We’re Drinking,” Mr. Undertaker’s mid-50s cult classic “Here Lies My Love,” and the Wendell Austin country acid trip “L.S.D. Made a Wreck of Me.”
Holly and the boys have latched on to something nice, peaceful, and true in their music.
Growing up in the Midwest, surrounded by a family of country music fans (Williams, Robbins, Cash, and Haggard were mainstays), I was taught the beauty of the “less is more” aesthetic; therein lies the greatness of this record: it is simple and powerful all at once. Music doesn’t need all the bells and whistles coming at you from every angle as long as it is honest. Perhaps that’s why I gravitated to punk rock in my youth?
No Help Coming sounds like a lost jewel covered in the dust of time. The production is sparse like an old Carter Family 78 record; this isn’t a ploy to sound authentic, in my opinion. No, it is just a way of showing who Holly Golightly & The Brokeoffs are, what they believe, and the music that is inside them. These are the rhythms and traditions that they hold dear to their hearts. And that, my friends and wayfaring strangers, is what country music is really about.
Spring 2011 Tour Dates:
Fri., April 29: CHARLOTTE, NC – Snug Harbor
Sat., April 30: CHAPEL HILL, NC – Local 506
Sun., May 1: ARLINGTON, VA – IOTA Club & Café
Tues., May 3: BALTIMORE, MD – The Ottobar
Wed., May 4: PHILADELPHIA, PA – M Room
Thurs., May 5: NEW YORK, NY – The Mercury Lounge
Fri., May 6: BROOKLYN, NY – Knitting Factory
Sat., May 7: CAMBRIDGE, MA – Middle East Upstairs
Sun., May 8: NEW HAVEN CT – Café Nine
Tues., May 10: BUFFALO, NY – The Ninth Ward
Wed., May 11: CLEVELAND, OH – Beachland Ballroom and Tavern
Fri., May 13: CHICAGO, IL – Beat Kitchen
Sat., May 14: MINNEAPOLIS, MN – 7th Street Entry
Sun., May 15: MILWAUKEE, WI – Mad Planet
Tues., May 17: ST. LOUIS, MO – The Firebird
Thurs., May 19: OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – The Conservatory
Fri., May 20: AUSTIN, TX – Emo’s Alternative Lounging (Indoor)
Mon., June 20: SEATTLE, WA – The Funhouse
Tues., June 21: PORTLAND, OR – Doug Fir Lounge
Thurs., June 23: SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Bottom of the Hill
Fri., June 24: LOS ANGELES, CA – The Hotel Cafe
Sat., June 25: SAN DIEGO, CA – Soda Bar