Album Review of
Anywhere Else?

Written by Joe Ross
March 21, 2014 - 12:00am EDT
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The "slamgrass" of the Blind Corn Liquor Pickers is a slamdunk success for those who enjoy a musical fusion supercharged with bluegrass and rockabilly spirit. Purists will have a harder time tuning into and appreciating their songs about working, drinking, and traveling. The band has some fanciful moments, but the album lacks genuine show-stoppers that reach real awe-inspiring heights. However, they come close with the opener, "Bad Tom Smith," about a real bad man and his appointment with the hangman. "Hi-Ball on a Roll-by" has a unique flair for a train song. Similar to Yonder Mountain String Band, my guess is that the band is quite loud and successful working a youthful crowd into a frenzy at a live show. At, you can sample some of their live performance from an appearance on Red Barn Radio.

From Lexington, Ky., this quirky quartet has the support of Grammy-winning producer Bil VornDick for a two-album deal. On a positive note, "Anywhere Else?" remains true to working class sensibilities with plenty of up-tempo down-home flavor and playful arrangements. Without any fiddle or dobro featured, the band depends on Joel Serdenis' mandolin, Todd Anderson's bass, Travis Young's banjo and Tom Fassas' guitar for their rhythmic drive and melodic propulsion.

Songs on the 44-minute project include: 1.Bad Tom Smith, 2. Hi-Ball on a Roll-By, 3. Little Enis, 4. Europe on $15 a Day, 5. Puttin' Up Hay, 6. River of Blazing Bourbon, 7. Eyes of Dawn, 8. The Grindstone, 9. Once in a Lifetime, 10. Anywhere Else, 11. Field Cred, 12. 8-Ball

The band's eccentricity is their redeeming value. "Bad Tom Smith" tells the story of a murderer in eastern Kentucky who confessed to some of his crimes as he was on the scaffold ready to be hung in 1895. With its boogyin' and swinging beat, "Little Enis" is a tongue-in-cheek reference to Elvis the Pelvis' twin brother. Anderson's walking and slapping bass lines make some outlandish musical statements. "Europe on $15 a Day" and "Puttin' Up Hay" are earthy compositions with copious amounts of paradoxical humor. The whimsical "River of Blazing Bourbon" refers to a "twenty foot tidal wave of whiskey" that rolls into town. I'm not sure if there's an implied and novel analogy to alcohol abuse, or if the Liquor Pickers are just simply declaring their affinity for bourbon, booze, bongs and buzz. "Once in a Lifetime" is a cover from the Talking Heads.

The most enlightening song about these guys, however, and their sardonic sense of humor is "Field Cred." Self-admitted "bluegrass wannabes," they sing "ain't got the country credibility to pen a bluegrass song." Now things become a little clearer. The mu-grass (aka mutant grass) of BCLP harnesses energy from their other musical influences. They seem about a quarter each alt-country, Texas outlaw, folk-pop, and bluegrass. With a little infectious punk spunk and rousing rockabilly thrown in, the result is some lively numbers that surely will put some spirit into a youthful crowd's feet. I like their raw energy and brash attitude. I wonder if they drink Red Bull. (Joe Ross)