Posts Tagged ‘ Imperial Rooster ’

Imperial Rooster – Decent People (Music Review)

Decent People cover

Imperial Rooster – Decent People

“Anything Goes At A Rooster Show”, the lead track on Decent People, wastes no time in announcing that Imperial Rooster is a quirky, irreverent country act. Featuring L. Ron Hubbard, monkeys, and a vending machine full of raw pickled eggs, it does sound like “a good old fashioned Rooster show” would be a lot of fun.

After that song, though, the band tries to go in too many directions, few of them good. One country standby after another is embraced eagerly, from warnings about divine judgment to an enthusiastic jug solo. I still can’t tell whether the exaggerated country moan in the vocals is satirical or just over-indulgent. At least it’s obvious that the huge body count comes from a less-than-serious love of murder and heartbreak songs. This young band has some strengths, but a lot of weaknesses, and they haven’t yet figured out how to tell them apart.

The attention-craving sinners of “Anything Goes…” and “DWI Marijuana Blues” clash with the God-fearing balladeers who sing “our ignorance will block out the Sun” and warn the listener away from internet porn (with too much fervor to be taken seriously). In case that isn’t enough variety, the singer occasionally switches over to a Tom Waits-esque yell. These all clash, especially when they show up in the same song. (For example, the painfully-slow ballad about their fears for the modern world would be more tolerable if it weren’t named “Korhn Sirup Sundae”.)

If Imperial Rooster has a future, it’s probably in that Tom Waits impression. Not that they have Waits’ gift for lyrics, but the growling and energy distract from their lack of singing skill. “45 Seconds Of Blood” is actually a fun little song, and only partly because it is too quick to wear out its welcome. In fact, “The Beast On The Backs Of Our Children” is almost seven minutes long and manages to stay interesting. It could use some polishing up, but its bloody morality play grunted out over an oompah beat is unique enough to work.

Unfortunately, every decent song like that is balanced out by a few completely forgettable ones. With production that makes the album sound like an unprepared first take and failed humor that never lives up to the promise of “Anything Goes…”, many of these songs shouldn’t have even been considered for release. (Even if women abusing their husbands were automatically funny, “I Like The Way (She…)” is plodding and forgettable enough to ruin the joke.)

There’s one reason I keep coming back to this album, though: “Suzie Anna Riverstone”. This mixes Imperial Rooster’s split personalities perfectly, and results in a song I will listen to on repeat. Modeled after a traditional country tragedy, the lyrics are just too over the top to take seriously, and the shit-kicking energy makes it a fun, self-aware celebration of the genre.

Decent People is a rare thing: An indisputably bad album that still makes me interested in seeing the band live. The country pranksters behind “Anything Goes At A Rooster Show” and “Suzie Anna Riverstone” have to be fun in concert, and given that those songs bookend the album, the band clearly knows those are their standouts. It’s just too bad that they haven’t figured out how to make the rest of their songs work like that.

Grade: D+