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Country Teasers, with NTX+ Electric Deth

Friday, January 23

Brits the Country Teasers are often labeled either talentless or inept. There are frequent assertions that they simply have no clue about how to play their instruments. The music geeks at über-trendy Pitchfork.com were particularly nasty: "dumb, improvisational noise-rock"; "remarkably infantile and incomprehensible"; "these are either terrible songs or terrible parodies of terrible songs." Ouch. Others point out a host of politically incorrect Teaser traits including sexism, misanthropy and racism. Not since the Sex Pistols and Pat Green have I come across a band with more bad press than the Country Teasers. But on the other hand, an informal Houston "reviewer" writing on Amazon.com reports, "The Country Teasers came to Mary Jane's…and they rocked so f'n hard, I will never recover!"

From the few published interviews with Teasers leader B.R. Wallers, we get the impression that he rather enjoys the astringent feelings the band generates in audiences and critics, and that he strives to create those uncomfortable moments when crowd dynamics teeter on the slippery brink between violence and dismissal. It's even safe to suggest that that's the Teasers' artistic goal, although they maintain almost an anti-art, we-have-no-idea-what-it's-about-or-what-it-means posture.

Wallers bases his confrontational, invective-spewing, bad-boy stage persona on the culture of racism, and his brand of punk surrealism is rooted in what he describes as country music's "skewed approach to the world." Lyrically, the offensive shock-and-awe Johnny Rotten-meets-Howard Stern venom of Brit skinhead punk prevails ("I like the swastika / I also like the Jew / I like the Negro / And the KKK too / The only type I do not like is you / When you are a junkie"). "Come Back Maggy," from the 1999 Fat Possum release Destroy All Human Life, finds the band pining for the return of the former prime minister and is seen as a slap at Tony Blair's Clintonian politics.

The Country Teasers: We have come to annoy you, and we will annoy you wherever you go.
The Country Teasers: We have come to annoy you, and we will annoy you wherever you go.

The band's latest album, which seems to be titled both Secret Weapon Revealed at Lastand Full Moon Empty Sportsbag, defies not just easy but virtually any genre characterization -- but it can be said to combine experimental indie noise-rock with lo-fi bad-bar-band country. Somewhat like a Dalí painting, the mishmashed, ham-fisted musical and lyrical elements make for a unique if chaotic order, sometimes pleasing, almost always shocking.

While the Teasers have often been mentioned with the Butthole Surfers, there are no simple comparisons. But imagine Joy Division or Velvet Underground stumbling through a Tammy Wynette standard straight up -- while trying to cure a monumental hangover with a double spoonful of Mexican brown and a box of Coricidin.

 
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