Swank The Survival Issue

This is a real cool disc, one that demands a scare-the-neighbours level of cranked volume. These Vancouver cats won fans with their Pappy's Corn Squeezin's debut, and they kick things up a notch with this sophomore effort. Their whiskey-fuelled sound gleefully plunders from country, folk and rockabilly sonic treasure chests. They launch The Survival Issue with a zippy instrumental, "The Incident At Rock Creek," then move right into the righteous romp "How Do We Do," featuring guest vocalist Ana Bonbon. The energy level rarely flags, and there's enough variety on the 15 cuts to keep it interesting. Convincingly gruff-voiced singer/lyricist Spencer McKinnon adds virile harmonica, while his four Swank-y comrades chip in with dobro, banjo, lots of raunchy slide and steel guitar, and beefy backing vocals. The Survival Issue was produced, recorded and mixed by Howard Redekopp (54-40, the New Pornographers), and he does a fine job of keeping things gritty but not messy. A luridly fun CD cover and graphics done in an old comics style is another bonus. Fans of Southern Culture on the Skids and the Sadies should check this one out. Let's hope they take their show on the road too. (Independent)