Traditionally, punk music is associated with urban decay, due to its roots in either New York or London in the '70s. Its iconography - leather jackets and safety pins - are merely trappings of impoverished and struggling musicians in these city centers.
A lot of time has passed since The Ramones, The Sex Pistols and The Clash began their three-chord working class revolution and the primal yowl has spread to every corner of the Earth. This can be illustrated in the "outlaw bluegrass" of Winchester, Virginia's Gallows Bound self-titled release Gallows Bound. Gallows Bound applies the stripped down efficiency and hard-rocking intensity to traditional folk/bluegrass instruments, like banjo, acoustic guitar and double bass. In the process, they break the surface and allow us an opportunity to pierce the superficial trappings and get to the substance.
Too many bands ape the trappings of '70s punk rock with their only ambition to sound like The Exploited. Not only is this kind of lame, it's actually antithetical to what punk is and does. Punk is an energy, a rebellious, anarchic spirit that embraces uncertainty and risk and struggle, seeking to surpass its circumstances and make the best of what they've got.
In this, the overlap between punk and bluegrass becomes a lot more obvious. Gallows Bound increases the scope of punk rock to include wandering country lanes and dark hills; drinking in the cornfields and fighting behind bars. Thankfully, this is not just some repackaging of outlaw country or an attempt to make hard rock relevant. This is not country rock nor some Hank III rockabilly. This is true, damned and doomed roots music.
The combination of punk and roots music neutralizes the deficiencies of each genre. I've always admired punk's speed, intensity, and makeshift attitude, but listening to people who can't play their instruments for decades can get a bit tedious. After a while, shouldn't you, you know, try to get GOOD? So for all those punks who find themselves in rural areas, looking for music that speaks to their struggles, you've found it.
Recommended for fans of: Tiger Army, Woody Guthrie, Billy Bragg, Panopticon's Roads To The North
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