I am in no way a violent man, nor am I short tempered. I’ve never subscribed to notions of machismo antics nor do I indulge in physical confrontations unless someone strikes me first and I need to defend myself. But after one listen of The History of Cut Nails in America from D.C. punk twangers Shortstack, I feel like getting all sauced up on the cheapest of swill and starting some shit with the first roughneck I see. Yup, that’s what Shortstack is like. This Beltway quartet adds up the twang with a punk sensibility to more of an outlaw country vibe that encircles their sonic pallette, evoking a rowdy, bloody, scuzzy, sleazy and bruising guy’s night out.
The quasi yodel in Adrian Carroll’s voice makes for the instrumental accession on “Riverbend,” as a more down home chantey style is induced with “Wreckin’ Ball,” while their more punk side is showcased with “Good Intentions.”
For time on end it’s seemed as if country music gets slapped with the rockabilly tag when showing even the most rudimentary signs of unruliness, but The History of Cut Nails in America makes Shortstack seem like a pack of non-conformist good ol’ boys innocently searching for some drinks to pound and some folks standing right side up to smash a barstool over. What’s so harmless with that?
Aside from Gogol Bordello, most artists who try to fuse another style with punk come off as a novelty, as we’ve, for example, seen the Irish stuff done to death. Yet Shortstack seems to know the importance of being earnest, especially on the lap steel guitar ballad cover of Charlie Feathers’ “Man in Love” and the outlaw roughness on “Red Eyes.” Shortstack can be seen in two separate lights. Either they’re the bastard sons of the early Sun Records Artists when they toured and whored around with truck stop prostitutes (aka “lot lizards”) or a T-Bone Burnett experiment that’s gone horribly wrong yet sounds so good.
Lucero – That Much Further West
Heavy Trash – Heavy Trash
Supersuckers – Must’ve Been High