A sort of swampy Supersuckers, New Orleans trio Dash Rip Rock - whose last album Hee Haw Hell was the rather ambitious cowpunk retelling of Dante's Inferno - have returned to more earthly concerns on the new Country Grilfriend (Abitian). That means, according to the liner notes, "songs [that] will be played at every tail-gating, fish fry, frat house, boat launch and beach party throughout the South."
Sounds about right. There are songs about cranking Kid Rock on the way to the lake ("Let the Trucks Roll"), buxom barefoot backwoods gals (the Hank III-ish "Country Girlfriend), beer ("Beer Town U.S.A."), that wicked Internet ("Google This") and more beer ("It's the Beer"). Anyone who still turns up Georgia Satellites' "Keep Your Hands to Yourself" on the radio or jukebox owes it to themselves to give Country Girlfriend a few spins.
And although Dash's commentary on anything beyond longnecks and lasses is generally on the level of "stick it up your Yahoo," "Natchez Trace" is a fine Bottle Rockets-style blue-collar love ballad, and the sweet, fiddle-dusted "The Only Star in Texas" wouldn't sound at all out of place on an Old 97's record.
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Then comes Girlfriend's last third, a three-song meditation on Dash's post-Katrina hometown. "New Orleans Needs Stronger Dikes," is a jaunty Dixieland parade about "catfish swimming down Bourbon Street," where Dash frontman Bill Davis suggests that come next hurricane, somehow Rosie O'Donnell, Ellen DeGeneres and Dick Cheney's daughter may be able to help shore up the levees. (You can take the boys out of the frat house...)
"BS Coiwboy," a by-the-numbers roots-rocker about a self-styled "Cajun Casanova," is evidence enough that the Big Easy's hurricane-before-noon lifestyle is alive and well. But things are different now: "Please Come to the Mardi Gras" is no tuba-heavy, second-line shuffler.
Rather, it's just Davis with an acoustic, singing a quavering ballad that sounds more like a baby-come-back lover's plea than tourism board pitch. It's an affecting, effective reminder that, even for a band whose main concerns over the last quarter-century have been beer, bros and belles, letting the good times roll isn't always as easy as it seems. - Chris Gray
With Umbrella Man, 9 p.m. Saturday at the Continental Club, 3700 Main, 713-529-9899.