A bunch of experimental jazz musicians covering Merle Haggard. Say what? Yes, all your favorite classics are here, reproduced with twang and energy—“Fightin’ Side of Me,” “Okie from Muskogee”—but also with tons of skronky saxophone! It’s not even close to your average country record, even including alt-country. It’s a totally different beast, ramshackle and dissonant and confrontational and super fun. This is probably the weirdest album I’ve heard all year. It should go in KZSU’s cult music hall of fame (maybe next to Human Skab). Favorites: 1, 2, 5, 9, 11. FCC WARNING: 6.
1. *(4:36)—Mid-tempo cover of “Fightin’ Side of Me.” It’s a hoedown with a noisy free jazz breakdown that comes from out of nowhere. Rad!
2. *(3:20)—Fast, rollicking rave-up, almost country-punk. The party’s right here.
3. (3:34)—Medium-fast, rocking. They play this one (relatively) straight and keep it a bit more tuneful.
4. (4:14)—Mid-tempo, chaotic but more pastoral. High-pitched soloing and really busy, unhinged drumming.
5. *(8:39)—The Haggards covering Merle covering Western Swing godfather Bob Wills. Romps all over the place. Some wonderful, joyous moments here.
6. (5:56)—FCC WARNING (spoken f*** at the end). Funky, low-key ballad. Starts like Jandek, coheres, then falls apart. Features a whistle.
7. (2:39)—Slow, funky country strut with a lot of attitude.
8. (4:34)—Slow, no consistent rhythm, as close to pretty as things get here. Who knew there was a connection between Merle and Van Morrison?
9. *(5:57)—Medium-fast, rocking, more conventional. Awesome guitar and sax solos.
10. (5:09)—Medium-slow, not for the faint of heart. They may not smoke marijuana in Muskogee, but that’s some odd freaking white lightning they’re drinking.
11. *(4:10)—Just vocals and meandering banjo. Easygoing.
12. (3:04)—Medium-slow, bright, loping. Features recorder and ocarina.