lazy cowgirls - The I-94 Bar
There’s no-one better qualified to decry “this counterfeit world” than Pat Todd as he does on the opening cut of the same name on his new album.
Todd’s been The Real Deal for three decades, first with Los Angeles underground legends The Lazy Cowgirls and more recently with The Rankoutsiders. “Blood & Treasure” is long=player number-four and builds on a substantial body of work.
People sometimes look down their noses at the term “bar band”. Why is a mystery. Isn’t a “bar band” the antithesis of a “stadium band”? Todd has assembled one of the world’s best bar bands in The Rankoutsiders and it would be a travesty to think of them playing Coachella.
“…there’s pretty things in Palookaville…” - Pat Todd & The Rankoutsiders (Hound Gawd!)
Unless you’re one of the lucky few you won’t have yet heard the latest album from ex-Lazy Cowgirls frontman Pat Todd and his pack of old stagers, The Rank Outsiders. So what’s the point of a song-by-song description? You’ll forget the song titles before you clap ears on the real things, anyway. So let’s dispense with that bullshit and tell you how it will make you feel, instead…
Slap it onto the turntable or whack it into the player. Crank it. Good and loud. The opening G chord of “All The Years #1” kicks in and hangs in the air, and it’s like an old friend just walked in the door with a case of cold beers and a headful of fresh stories.
It’s all jagged riffs and Todd’s impassioned vocal, urgent and insistent. It sounds immediately familiar, yet fresh, a menu of yarns set to punkish, rootsy rock and blues, basted in minor chords and a harmonica dry rub, and roasted in a slow cooker.
Michael Passman photo.
Pat Todd is one of the greats of American music in recent times. I say that not just because he has one hell of a set of pipes on him, and is an incredible songwriter, but because he’s also combined elements of garage, punk and country all into one mix. I can’t think of anyone that has done that as long as he has, or has done it so well.
Todd makes music that I find hard to believe anyone could dislike. He’s one of the great American songwriters. Todd formed his latest outfit The Rankoutsiders in the mid-2000s and they pick up where his legendary group the Lazy Cowgirls left off. Their latest release “…….there’s pretty things in Palookaville”is up there with his best work, but every LP he does is brilliant and it’s hard to pick a standout “classic”.Pat spoke to me from his Los Angeles homebase via Zoom, where Rankoutsiders guitarist Nick Alexandergreets me before Pat comes on.
Americana is a term that excuses all sorts of sins. It’s so sweeping as to be meaningless - and it’s been homogenised to the point of dross - so let’s not speak of it again.
Some folks call Pat Todd “Americana” and it doesn’t remotely cover what he and his Los Angeles-based Rankoutsiders play. They’ve been tagged “Mellencamp with the Les Paul turned right up” by one reviewer, which is a bona fide compliment if you ignore the stuff that charted in Australia…
So, the fifth Rankoutsiders album, “The Past Came Callin’”, is rootsy and muscular rock and roll, an amalgam of rock, country, blues and everything in-between, and a contender for their best yet.
What makes the 14 tracks on “The Past Came Callin’” stand out? The songwriting, for one. Pat Todd doesn’t do mawkish sentimentality and writes from the heart. These are a mix of old and new songs, stories about relationships and crimes - which we all know are sometimes one and the same thing.
The surging, urgent guitars of Nick Alexander and Kevin Keller are another distinctive plus. Like Thunders with a clear head or Keef with a new-found dose of inspiration and less noodling, these guys make you take notice of every lick and steamrolling riff.
Josie Jose photo
Best Albums of 2021 (not in order)
Blowers – “Blowers”
In the tradition of Jay Reatard and the Oblivions, Blowersare a band that proves less is more. Killer bare basics, as well as plenty of humour. One take, if there’s a mistake, fuck it, that’s the take. This LP is prime example of garage rock at its purists and best.
Civic – “Future Forecast”
After a few brilliant EPs it’s great to finally get a full Civicrelease. Combining elements of ‘90s Melbourne rock and US 2000s gunk rock, this stayed on the turntable for a good fortnight.
Cutters – “Australian War Crimes”
Six tracks clocking in at 10 minutes, including a diss on Rye, a suburb I don’t care for, and the title track, a reaction to revelations of Australian SAS soldiers’ behaviour in Afghanistan. Brutal and superb.