Dash Rip Rock - Black Liquor (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Dash Rip Rock

Black Liquor (2012)

Alternative Tentacles

Every since folk-punk and cow-punk became a thing that the collective punk consciousness acknowledged as a thing, there's been an unmentioned, unloved aspect of the genre. The fact of the matter is that a lot of the boys singing in downhome accents and using cotton threshing as a metaphor for class struggle ain't never done picked up a trowel or scythe to save their confounded lives. The result with those bands is that although they adapt the intonation and trappings of those bands, they never truly have the depth, clarity or experience to truly give their words weight. One could study Gene Autry or Johnny Cash for years, but until one actually drags a sledge through a dry field or separates the seed from the fiber, one can't truly express what it means to be bound to the land. Perhaps more so than any other genre, country and southern blues isn't something that can be affected, but only absorbed from firsthand experience. On Black Liquor, New Orleans-based Dash Rip Rock show that country and southern music isn't something crafted, it's something that flows from fingers themselves.

Still a power trio, Dash Rip Rock have drifted more towards their rock and roll aspects on this record. Opener "Black Liquor" is built around a southern boogie riff, but as the thick guitar hangs in the air and twists, it's more Stooges than Mardi Gras. Likewise, "Blood Swamp" creeps at a slower pace, but props itself up through broad, powerful riffage. But because the band aren't necessarily a "cow-punk" band or a "folk-punk" simply by existing, they show their source. Each song is firmly entrenched in the swamps of the south, growing massive with a blues based sound that is as clean as it is weighty.

Although Dash Rip Rock do lean on the energy of rock music, they're still anchored by their influences. "Possession" is a Lynyrd Skynrd-ish tale of fighting for a girl against competitors and parents. "Meet Me at the River" creates an atmosphere of laid back partying that could only come from south of the Mason-Dixon-really far south. But wisely, the band don't strictly emulate their forefathers. "Voodoo Doll" laughs at blues rock's fascination with the occult as much as it celebrates it. It's never clear if the band actually think the concept of voodoo is scary or if it's really an anti-religion punk attack in disguise.

That makes it that much more powerful when the band does become serious. "Money keeps right on talking / Sizing you up for your coffin/in this world / In this mean old world" is a lamentation that could fit in with any Hank Williams or Waylon Jennings admonition, but it sits equally at home with the anti-capitalism attack of anarcho punk.

Black Liquor isn't massively groundbreaking, but it is an excellent combination of rock with the music of the laborer. If anything, because Dash Rip Rock don't put their southern rock tendencies out front, they become that much more apparent and that much more genuine.