Carrying the torch for the cocaine country sound that’s equal parts high and lonesome to drunk and cumbersome are Portland, Oregon’s The Lonesome Billies. This vein of country music written and performed by punk rock cats is a road well-travelled but It’s Good to Be Lonesome houses true grit and real collectivity. This is analbum, no just a bunch of songs slapped together with an ironic title pinned atop like some cowpunk jolly roger. It flows from dark honky-tonk tunes to booze-soaked white v-neck tees and tattooed hands holding up hungover heads with not enough hydration left to even muster a tear. This is the soundtrack to On the Roadmeets Easy Rider, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas meets Urban Cowboy.
Clayton McHune and Jeff Gaither started the Billies as a duo project. As things picked up steam and the creative writing juices flowed, the duo took on brothers in arms (also real-life brothers) Mike and Glen Scheidt on bass and drums, respectively. The dozen-track offering ofIt’s Good to Be Lonesome is yet another snapshot of '70s cosmic country brought out in due with punk rock sensibility and a story to tell. The album is jangly, rough-hewn, and misshaped; a slow favorite that will find more time in your rotation than it will gather dust with the rest of your collection. It's as good a debut record as a band could hope for.
Harnessing all the energy on this release from the producer chair was Brandon Eggleston (Mountain Goats, Modest Mouse), and 2/3 of the producing was done at Cloud City Studios in our great Pacific Northwest. The disc was released on band-owned Stay Lonesome Records on September 1, so get on it.
From those sessions, The Billies have graced me with an all but forgotten B-side, “William Davis” which soothes the cantankerous tale of a travelling salesman who has a problem with wives dying until he himself vanishes. Ladies and gentlemen…The Lonesome Billies:
(+words by scott zuppardo+)
*Originally published at No Depression 9/23/15*