When the Waco Brothers performed at Austin's South by Southwest festival in March, the sextet was doing Rockette-like leg kicks by the third song and pouring whiskey over their heads by the eighth. Far from spoiling the music, the antics seemed to remove the last few restraints from a band that thrives on pell-mell momentum and loosey-goosey spontaneity.
You can hear the same manic intensity on the band's new album, "Waco Express: Live & Kickin' at Schubas Tavern, Chicago." All 16 songs (15 by the band plus Neil Young's "Revolution Blues") have appeared on other Waco Brothers' albums. The studio versions may be better for grasping the populist lyrics and the singalong melodies that link punk and country, but the live recordings magnify the adrenalized fervor of a Saturday night that also unites the two genres.
The band features two members of the British punk band the Mekons (guitarist Jon Langford and drummer Steve Goulding), two more English expats (mandolinist Tracey Dear and bassist Alan Doughty) and two guys from Milwaukee (guitarist Dean Schlabowske and steel guitarist Mark Durante). They sound extremely comfortable on stage, as if they might follow any impulse. And they do.
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