Neil Hamburger Sings Country Winners

Neil Hamburger Sings Country Winners
"The World’s Funnyman,” Neil Hamburger sets up an ominous joke by releasing a full-blown country record but never delivers the punch line, because Sings Country Winners is actually quite good. Rather than parodying Nashville, Hamburger’s whiny, seedy, offensive persona works well with the sawdust sound of the stellar musicians. Hamburger’s hyper, "woe is me” attitude and tales of ugly divorces do adhere to common roots music tropes, and he settles right into "Three Piece Chicken Dinner” and "Please Ask That Clown to Stop Crying.” His unbridled rage and umbrage make "The Recycle Bin” hilarious, though its green message drowns in obscenities. On pride-mingled-with-sorrow cuts like "How Can I Be Patriotic (When They’ve Taken Away My Right to Cry),” "At Least I was Paid” and "Thinkin’ It Over,” Hamburger holds court, but his amazing band — featuring luminaries Prairie Prince, Dave Gleason, Atom Ellis, Joe Goldmark and Rachel Haden — get loose, their prowess confusing the project’s sincerity. Again, Sings Country Winners is something of a bit, but it’s the most entertaining yet by Neil Hamburger. (Drag City)