Henry Wagons and I met by chance one day last September. He was an opening act for Those Darlins that night and I remember the tall Aussie armed with a headband and acoustic guitar impressed me beyond belief. His set filled up the tavern that night with outlaw folk/country jams making me an instant fan. After his set I learned that Henry Wagons hailed from Melbourne, Australia, and actually left his band, Wagons, back home as it was too tough to fly everyone to the states. Even though they were a pretty big deal back home, Henry Wagons took it upon himself to spread their music to the states. I left that night with a copy of a Wagons CD titled Rise and Fall of Goodtown, a sweet towel and new love for an Australian band.
I tried my hardest to see Wagons play at SXSW in Austin, TX, this past spring, but thanks to a botched flight, I did not get there in time. Rumor has it, Wagons turned a bunch of heads with a memorable set in which they played new material off a new album. Needless to say, I was bummed out that I missed my chance to see Wagons and hear some of the upcoming tunes.
Luckily for me and many other fans, Wagons dropped their fourth all new release titled Rumble, Shake and Turn on Thirty Tigers toward the end of the summer. The album is country, it’s rock, it’s even a little cabaret and sure as hell is full of outlaw tendencies. When listening to Wagons, you get a sense you have heard the music before not just from your father’s collection, but also from your grandfathers collection you might have been exposed to at a young age. The band takes generations of music and blends it perfectly into their own style guaranteed to turn some heads.
Opening track “Downlow” is very Tom Petty sounding from the get go with lyrics that almost could emulate Wagons’ very own wit and charm. “I Blew It”, a quite addicting track to listen to, immediately followed full of outlaw country styles as well as some Elvis-sounding growling within. The music video as seen below is pretty damn amazing as well. “Moon Into The Sun” was about as country twang as any track on the album gets with a more sensitive Wagons declaring “my life has been a fucking mess without you.”. Wagons’ singing on this track easily brought the listener back to the days of Twitty, Williams, Jennings, Haggard, and even a starving young Cash and seemingly did not sound like he was even trying to.
The ever catchy tribute to Willie Nelson, properly titled “Willie Nelson”, deserved multiple plays on account of how fun it was to listen to. Comparing Nelson to other greats, I loved how Henry Wagons shifted his accent (“Willie Nel-sun!”) in a clear comical attempt to mess with the listener yet pay a homage to a country great. “He likes some salt and pepper with his evening meal” is repeated over and over by Wagons about his favorite musician in the country music business and as much of a tribute the song was, it was just hilarious to listen to. I would love to know what Nelson’s reaction was about this track.
“Love Is Burning” was an unexpected track on the album that was more rock and roll than anything. “My Daydreams” was a thoughtful track spanning around romance that easily has the ability to swoon. Wagons’ had no problem recalling the outlaw greats throughout the track as the band backs him up. “Save Me” was a simple upbeat tune with easy sing-a-long qualities, more of that country twang and even a little blues thrown in. “Follow The Leader” moved along with almost a train track rhythm only to jump rail and turn psychedelic for a moment. i did not know what to think about this song. It definitely strayed away from the rest. “Marylou” ended the album and at the very end, Wagons closes out the album with a sigh making me wonder how personal that track really was to Wagons.
Rumble, Shake and Tumble was a great album from start to finish full of American genres with a modest Australian twist. Wagons and company pull off yet another impressive release that more people need to check out. Wagons has quite the fan base back home and I am pretty sure before long, we Americans will be picking up on their talent.
Wagons is actually back on a US tour in support of the new release and will be stopping at the Beachland Tavern in Cleveland this Sunday Sept. 11th. Tickets are only $8 and if you fathom yourself a folk/country/rock fan, you would be doing yourself a favor seeing them live. Not only is the music good live, but Wagons himself is a pretty candid guy. Don’t be lame. Get up there Sunday night.