The Von Ehrics – Loaded

The Von Ehrics - Loaded

The Von Ehrics - Loaded

The Von Ehrics rock it country style on their new LP, Loaded. These Dallas roughnecks are damn near punkabilly. The album is a fun romp—the 10 songs are full of familiar novelties made for those who like lots of sugar in their coffee.

Country influences abound in indie rock today, from the Great Lake Swimmers to the Drive-By Truckers. The Von Ehrics are far less dynamic than either. They’re also less cerebral, less intimate, and less troubled by all of life’s gray areas. So they turn up the volume, the distortion, and do what they do. Steve Earle, Motorhead, Bad Religion, Social Distortion, and Chris Knight are cited as influences, but they are more like their stage mates, the Old 97’s and Reverend Horton Heat.

The songs make use of standard pop formulas driven by distorted guitars that vary between power chords that play up the band’s rock, punk, and metal roots (“A Week of Living Dangerously”) and full sounding bar and open chords (“Worst Is Over”) that bring out the country. But even deeper country roots surface in the rapid fire snare drum, walking bass lines, and Texas born vocal delivery. A playful, easy-to-swallow cocktail of country, rock, punk, and metal is what they aim for, and they hit the bullseye.

Because of the lack of dynamics, the repetitive 1-speed, one volume songs suffer when pushed past 3 minutes. But Loaded has more hits than misses. I had the disadvantage of hearing a downloaded copy, but still, it was easy to picture the 3-piece band strutting on stage, ripping through tunes that the crowd surely knows, even if they’ve never heard the band play before.

“Loaded All Day” is youthful and catchy as it hops through solid transitions. It’s reminiscent of a country-ish version of Green Day’s earliest work on 1039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours. But “Old Chunk of Coal”, with its heated guitar solo, is the band’s best showing. The hooks are undeniable as the song speeds to the chorus, “Well, I’m gonna be the world’s best friend / I’m gonna go around shaking everybody’s hand / Hey, I’m just an old chunk of coal / but I’m gonna be a diamond some day”. It’s about as rockabilly as the album gets. To the fore comes the walking bass on “I Like Yours”, a song marked with a distinctly country vocal telling of a chance meeting and fast love.

Loaded stumbles here and there. “A Week of Living Dangerously” outstays its welcome, and “What Else” just isn’t that well written or executed. Interestingly, both of these songs are also among the album’s purest rock tracks, largely void of the band’s usual country flavoring.

The Von Ehrics are a country rock band at heart, but they are always willing to use all of their influences. Their musicianship on Loaded is marked by tight execution that yields focused, lean songs. As recorded, this sound might be too neat to draw the rockabilly or psychobilly labels, but it seems clear that this animal is a club band. Loaded is an upbeat, effortless listen.

Crustacean Records