Album Review: Old Man Markley – Guts N’ Teeth

I have been digging Old Man Markley‘s self-proclamed genre of “Newgrass” for quite some time now, but it appears that I forgot to let the rest of the world know.  The band released Guts N’ Teeth on Fat Wreck Chords back in January and I guess I enjoyed it so much that I failed to talk it up a bunch.  So, 5-months later, without further au-due, ladies and gentlemen, Old Man Markley…

So, wait – what is this “Newgrass” genre I speak of?  It is a fine mix of punk, folk, and bluegrass making for one catchy sound.  Think old school country jam meets folk rock / punk rock fueled by countless rounds of draft beers at your favorite drinking hole with friends.

If having a good time could be put in music form, “Newgrass” is probably what it would sound like.

Back in 2007, the band started off in LA jamming out in a bluegrass fashion as well as took countless bluegrass favorites of theirs and covered them in a much different way based upon their own punk rock standards.  After a couple years the band, containing up to nine people currently, took all they knew musically and pushed out their debut album Guts N’ Teeth.  The result is one of the best CDs I have heard in 2011 and I am not just saying that.  Put it this way, the moment I heard the opening track, I placed my order for the vinyl because I had to have it in my collection.

“For Better For Worse” was that catchy track I heard.  I was an instant fan.  It was a mix of all the current types of music I have been digging lately – Folk, country, punk, and bluegrass.  The song was full on energy even if  singing of a girl that can’t be had.  Resembling something sounding like Tumbledown meets Dropkick Murphys, the song made you want to throw a foot to the ground a few hundred times while tossing back drinks.  Does it sound to you as if I liked this track?  You bet your ass I did.

Following was “At The Bottom”, a banjo-heavy track full of group vocals backing up singing about passing out at the bottom of a bottle.    “Running Weight” was a fiddle frenzy track that was more like an adventure if anything about getting from point A to point B without getting caught.

“Do Me Like You Do” was an entertaining cover of the 1924 song written by Gene Austin and Roy Bergere.  Covered usually by jazz artists, this mean bluegrass version was full of fun a quarrel at the same time.  Slowing down things a bit was “Song Songs”, a song about all the songs that many members of this band have probably written for others throughout the years.

Another track that caught my ear was “Letterman”, a song of an angered escape surrounded by some amazing folk rock music, especially the harmonica playing.  With harsh lyrics like, “so now your hiding in a sad song, we don’t want to sing along”, it’s clear that  the song is not aimed for good feelings one bit.  “Lowdown Blues” was a prime example of what the Stray Cats would have sounded like if they ditched the whole rockabilly feel and moved to the mountains.

I would not have been surprised if Tim Barry and the Avett Brothers had something to do with “Living and Learning”.  Hell, even Slobberbone hints throughout this track.  I guess it’s that time where I tell you if you need to listen to one track on this album it’s this one.  Seriously, good shit right here.

For a bunch of punkers from L.A. who used to be in bands such as Youth Brigade and Angel City Outcasts, Old Man Markley is downright impressive.  Mandolins, banjos, fiddles, autoharp, harmonica, washboard, and high spirited singing full up this album of non-stop folk/punk/rock goodness.  Like I said before, this is one of my favorite albums of 2011 and to think, it came out in the beginning of the year.  I dare anyone out there who says they like folk or country to tell me that there is not at least one song on this album that made them thing “damn, them boys is good”, because as a pretty solid fan of those genres, that is exactly what I said.

Old Man Markley will be touring with NOFX and Anti-Flag this Fall and as luck would have it, they are hitting Cleveland.  I know I will be in attendance that night.  Something tells me I will not regret it.

Can I just comment on the above video?  Best. Video. Ever.

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