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WOLVERTON BROTHERS (Buy CDs by this artist)
The Wolverton Brothers (OKra) 1988 (Deary Me) 1999
Sucking Hind Tit (OKra) 1990
Liarman (Atavistic) 1993
Glad EP (Atavistic) 1995

On their rickety and gutbuckety but nonetheless auspicious debut, this strange Cincinnati foursome (no Wolvertons and no brothers in the bunch, natch) set the general stage for the rest of their extant career. Blending hard-chooglin' boogie rock, country-fried riffage and feedback-soaked atmospherics, the Wolverton Brothers have shaped a distinct backwoods hoedown marked by a dissolute, unspecific sense of ennui. Covering Charlie Daniels' "Long Haired Country Boy" and singing about old-timey fishing excursions with girlfriends wearing "fancy earrings," the album suggests hickish small-town social decay without ever traipsing into clichéd celebrations of incest, buggery or moonshine.

The band sounds much tighter and more expansive on its terrific follow-up, Sucking Hind Tit, which includes an eighteen-minute cover of America's "A Horse With No Name." The compelling layers of twangy, contrapuntal riffing hit an apex on tunes like "Could've Had a Life" and "Peace March," while the eerie "Posse Comitatus" captures the chafing frustration of rural America that helped foment the militia movement.

Failing to suitably capture its thrilling live energy, the band eventually recorded a seven-song followup produced by Jon Langford of the Mekons. Liarman pares down the twang in favor of a decidedly punchier rhythmic attack, while placing greater emphasis on the textural, harmony-heavy lattice built from Bill Stuart and Tim Schwallie's guitar playing. Unfortunately lost in these thick, coloristic sounds is the nifty interplay between Stuart, Schwallie and bassist Jay McCubbin. On the other hand, a song like "Max Gomez Love" adds a novel, almost Spanish instrumental lyricism, and "Blackout" sports a nice gritty funk.

The five-song Glad EP continues the band's progression in much the same vein, calming some of the combo's manic attack while ripping some of its previously rigid structures wide open, particularly on "Cold Spring." The Wolverton Brothers have maintained the invigorating blueprint proposed on their debut while transforming themselves into something less obvious than the rootsy twang of the early days.

[Peter Margasak]