From ’85 to ’92, back before Austin needed any urging to be kept weird, the Hickoids ruled the regional cowpunk conversation. Their onstage persona leaned more toward punk than country—what with all the beer-spitting, dick-flashing and other common trappings of a proper punk show—yet they played crossroads punk highly indebted to Tejano and outlaw country, with cheeky lyrics glorifying the life of the modern freedom-loving redneck. And after a quarter century of sporadic reunions and scattered short-form releases, the near-mythical band has emerged from the still with a proper full-length.
Hairy Chafin’ Ape Suit finds them as unhinged as they used to be and as tight as ever. Opener “Fruit Fly” grooves with bass and organ like a psychedelic Sir Douglas Quintet track. Deceptively storied lyrics offer glimpses into the lives of troubled ape-suit wearers, from the charmingly deranged (“The Talking Hot Pants Blues”) to the clueless (“Cool Arrow,” which, when said out loud as “culero,” translates to “asshole” in Spanish). Frontman Jeff Smith shouts and snarls nuggets of comic wisdom, his jokes pleasantly subtler than they were in the band’s heyday.
The Hickoids have aged gracefully. Once fire-breathing punks who drank more than they practiced, the boys have intentionally honed their craft into a gut-busting jambalaya of southern styles.
– Kevin Allen