by Mitch Myers
You say you like alternative country, huh? Supposing thats the case, lets make sure that yall are down with Souled American. Emerging in the late 80s, Souled American anticipated the alt-country phenomenon by at least five years and put out three classic albums in the space of 18 months. Those records, Fe, Flubber and Around The Horn, contain some of the most downtrodden warbling this side of Dock Boggs and seem to have made a great impression on contemporary faux-Appalachians such as Will Oldham of Palace and Richard Buckner. Fading into obscurity just as quickly as the band recorded those first three discs, Souled American has persevered and somehow continues to create rickety, savant-garde, countrified music.
Now, thanks to Tumult Records, those early albums have been reissued along with SAs fourth album, Sonny, a distended song cycle featuring traditionals and other old songs written by the likes of the Louvin Brothers, Merle Travis and George Jones. With sparse instrumentation (basically guitars, bass and some drums) providing a wholly inbred ambience, singers Chris Grigoroff and Joe Adducci warble through the dark recesses of backwoods Americana. Songs like "Marboro Man," "Marlyphine Hank" and "Cupa Cowfee" illuminate Flubber as the bands finest moment, but all four of these recordings (released as a pair of double CDs) are filled with similarly demented broodings. Enjoying pockets of support in Chicago and San Francisco, the Illinois-based group refuses to go down quietly. With a new album in the works and 1998s Frozen available on the Checkered Past label, all of you recently converted country bumpkins can immerse yourselves in the off-kilter cult of Souled American.
It aint roots rock and it shore aint countrypolitan. Hell, it aint even No Depression. This stuff is genuine moonshine music for the millennium. Lets just call it durn good, shall we?