Are those drums you hear? Or is it the sound of Keith Richards joyously banging his fists on the lid of his coffin? Ted Nugent as well has seen the future of rock and roll, and it is Tommy Brunett’s guitar: 18 wheels of white-line madness. More potent than a pitcher of adrenochrome squeezed from Courtney Love’s glands.
The album is Hell or High Water, and it has style. Soon, all of the kids will be walking the school halls while sporting a version of Brunett’s curious coiffure, an acid-washed Nureyev style he’s worn for years and calls “The High Pony.” And the kids will be speaking in Brunett’s rusty-gate voice, dressing like 19th-century carnival barkers and greeting each other with the non-sequitur of a catch phrase that punctuates “Pushin’ Time,” one of Brunett’s hard honky tonk tunes: “Let’s go bowling!”
But Hell or High Water is really for smart rock fans who appreciate music with a history, and songs that tell a story. This music has been years in the making, but comes off like spontaneous combustion. Social Distortion-like country-punk irreverence haunted by the lyrical soul of Johnny Cash. Brunett owes an obvious debt to Cash’s “A Boy Named Sue” on “The Drinking Song,” a cautionary tale passed down from his father of how “some of the best times of my life I can’t remember.” Rhett Miller of the Old 97’s sings on that track, as well as the rollicking “Born to Walk Alone.”