Texas music seems to be the same way. Where else could elements of punk, metal, country, classic rock, alternative and even gospel mix so seamlessly as they do on "Two Foot Stomp," the latest release from punkabilly act The Von Ehrics?
And just like any good chili takes time, this quartet is doing the best work of its career a full decade after its debut release.
"Two Foot Stomp" moves at breakneck speed through 12 tracks of driving rhythms, blistering guitar solos and frontman Robert Vandygriff's sharp lyrics and vocals.
The obvious standout is "Lord I Pray," a gospel song dressed in punk clothing. Featuring gospel choir the Friendly Five, the track is a plea to the almighty, but that doesn't stop it from rocking out.
The juxtaposition of the guests' vocals with Clayton Mills' fiery lead guitar gives the song a razor-sharp edge.
"Smokewagon" is a tale any working class band can appreciate, that of a beloved if not always trustworthy tour van. Vandygriff uses the vehicle to tell the story of a U.S. tour and how "Almost 48 states seen your Texas plates" as the band criss-crossed the country.
In spite of the torrid pace of the album, the band finds time to scale it back a bit with the slowed down (for this band) "Downtown." It may still feature some sweet solos, but it's actually driven by an acoustic guitar.
"Goodbye/The Ride" actually features the best of both worlds, as the first half of the track ("Goodbye") slows it way down, only to kick you in the head when the second part ("The Ride") turns the volume and tempo up to 11.
Other notable tracks include "Last of the Working Slobs" and "Gone," which kick the record off nicely, as well as "Rock and Roll" and "Just a Little Time."
The album ends perfectly with a cover of "Texas (When I Die)," the 1978 country hit for Tanya Tucker. The band puts its own stamp on the number, even adding vocals and cheers from a bar filled with whiskey-drinking concertgoers at the end.
My spin: B+
"Two Foot Stomp" is a fine record, filled with the best elements of all the genres from which it draws. With genre lines becoming more blurred all the time, The Von Ehrics seem to have found an eclectic mix not too many others have discovered, and it's working well for them.
The Von Ehrics, "Two Foot Stomp"
Released: April 19 on Lucky Buck Records
The Von Ehrics are:: Gabe Aguilar-drums; Paul "Santi" Vaden-bass; Robert Jason Vandygriff-guitars, vocals; Clayton Mills-lead guitar
Producer: Dave Willingham
Learn more: www.vonehrics.com