Retro Grade A

When North Carolina's Southern Culture on the Skids are hungry, they scarf pork and fried chicken. When they're at home, they're pickin' and grinnin' in a trailer park. And when they're feeling romantic, they write an ode to hillbilly love called "Put Your Teeth Up on the Window Sill."

The other ten months of the year they're on the road -- guitarist/vocalist Rick Miller, bassist/vocalist Mary Huff and drummer Dave Hartman packed into a van, crisscrossing the country with a retro-tribute shtick that sucks rockabilly, surf, country, TV themes, jump blues and twang into an oily vortex of backward-thinking righteousness and AM non-fidelity that's got about as much chance of spawning a "hit record" as O.J. has of getting another check from Hertz.

It makes for a hell of a show, though, as evidenced by SCOTS' last two trips through Houston. Miller milks his vintage guitars and amps for all the reverb they're worth, Huff stands coyly sassy behind her bass and now and then pipes in with achingly beautiful melodies, and Hartman pounds away at a three-piece drum kit that's one-third ashcan. The little girls line up for that dance where somebody holds a stick and it keeps going down, and the little boys stand around with their hands in their pockets and their bony hips swaying, staring balefully at Huff and her big red hair. Get more excited than that, and you're likely to be handed some free KFC from the stage.

Two albums on the shelves worth mentioning: the Peckin' Party EP and the newer, 15-song Ditch Diggin', both of which earn the colloquialism of their apostrophes, even if they offer only a lo-fi hint of the vintage vibes that spark off the live stage. If this is retro, gimme some more.

-- Brad Tyer

Southern Culture on the Skids plays at 10 p.m. Saturday, July 9 at Harvey's Club Deluxe, 2524 McKinney, 223-4705. Truth Decay and Man or Astroman open. $5.

Also Recommended:
* 7 Year Bitch at Harvey's Club Deluxe, Thursday, July 7
* Cotton Mather at the Satellite Lounge, Thursday, July 7
* Pork at Rudyard's, Friday, July 8
* Tony Campise record release at Ovations, Saturday, July 9
* Shoulders at the Satellite Lounge, Saturday, July 9

* Keenlies at Rudyard's, Saturday, July 9


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