Album Reviews

Southern Culture On The Skids

The Electric Pinecones

Artist:     Southern Culture On The Skids

Album:     The Electric Pinecones

Label:     Kudzu Records

Release Date:     09/16/2016

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For over thirty years, Southern Culture On The Skids have played an eclectic range of Americana including rockabilly, surf rock, country and r&b, with a punk edge and heaps of humor. They are known for their legendary live shows and wacky antics, including throwing fried chicken and banana puddin’ into the crowd as well as inviting audience members on stage to dance. Visually SCOTS look a bit like the hillbilly stepchild of the B-52’s with Mary’s trademark beehive hair-doo and Rick’s hick overalls. But it’s more than just great fun; they are fantastic musicians to boot.

Their latest release, The Electric Pinecones, is named after a long time side project now come to fruition. Here the focus is on 1960’s garage rock and the cosmic country stylings of groups like the Byrds. Lead guitarist and singer Rick Miller explains:

“When Mary and I first started the band we were listening to a lot of stuff like International Submarine Band, Buck Owens, Merle Haggard and at the same time the Byrds, the Seeds, the Chocolate Watchband, etc. Once Southern Culture took off we never ventured into those waters too much again, but we thought for this record we’d revisit that stuff. We decided to name it The Electric Pinecones because it’s a little heavier on the record than when we used to do it live.”

The psychedelic influences are most evident in Miller’s groovy guitar tones. Throbbing tremolo, cavernous reverb and twelve string melody lines rest atop the rhythmic architecture built by Mary Huff on bass and Dave Hartman on drums. Miller is a wicked player whose style is at once fresh and familiar. He cites Link Wray, John Fogerty and Billy Strange as major influences and both captures and expands upon classic sounds.

The first track, “Freak Flag,” has a sunny, ’60s west coast pop-rock feel complete with hand claps. Huff’s tight harmonies compliment Miller’s vocal lead, and the infectious, anthemic chorus sums up the band’s feel good philosophy about being true to you.

“Come on and raise your freak flag high. Give ’em something different. Give ’em something new. Give ’em something so that they remember you.”

“Ain’t Gonna Hang Around” begins with pure country twang later embellished by surf guitar flourishes. Mary takes the lead vocal on the minor keyed psych rocker “Grey Skies.” At times her vocal inflections bring to mind those of Grace Slick.

With a jarring, dissonant intro riff and a hyper beat, “Swamp Fox” is classic SCOTS that tells the story of a southern hottie. This is good time music that’ll make you wanna get down and twist. “Slowly Losing My Mind” closes out the record with gentle, dreamy, surf twang, lush, reverb drenched harmonies and tropical percussion.

“I drifted out with the tide. Watching clouds pass me by. Just killing some time. Slowly losing my mind. Yes, I…”

Recorded primarily at their home studio Kudzu Ranch Recorders and released on their own label Kudzu Records, SCOTS have carefully crafted a warm, vintage sound. And for audiophiles, a limited edition colored vinyl LP will be available in November.

The Electric Pinecones is like a beach party where Jan and Dean smoke a joint with Jefferson Airplane. Psychedelic surf meets country twang. Jump in and ride the wave.

-Mike Cobb

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