Punk culture, American roots music and Walt Whitman’s poetry all come together on the Yawpers’ American Man, an album that mixes high-brow smarts with down-home stomp. Released October 30th by Bloodshot Records — the twang n’ tattoos label whose roster combines country music with the grit and gusto of something harder — American Man was produced by Cracker‘s Johnny Hickman and recorded at the Blasting Room, the Colorado studio owned by Descendents drummer Bill Stevenson. The result is an album split evenly between the boozy, blitzed energy of last call and the hard-won clarity that comes the morning after, just as the hangover’s about to set in.
With “Burdens,” the guys bang out a Springsteen-worthy tribute to escaping the city limits of one’s hometown. There’s no bass in the song — just the clang of a drummer and two acoustic guitarists, both of whom run their instruments through cranked-up amplifiers — but there’s still plenty of weight, with frontman Nate Cook singing about endless summers, downtown diners and “getting out of here while I’m young enough to run” in a voice that’s driven and desperate. The guys kick up plenty of dust behind him, fueling Cook’s escape with equal parts four-on-the-floor fury and overdriven dreadnoughts. (Listen to the song below.)
“I wrote ‘Burdens’ as a pseudo-autobiographical piece about growing up in small town Texas — the bravado that comes from despising where you grow up, and the assuredness that you’re better than it,” Cook tells Rolling Stone Country. “There’s some reference to our real pastimes back then: stealing gasoline or freon and huffing them in cars, and working shitty jobs. I also kind of added some prescience I didn’t have at the time about the consequences of actually living the life that I thought I wanted to. The lyrics hint at the fact that when you have lost something to blame your misery on, that agony will likely only get worse.”
The Yawpers, whose name is a nod to Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass,” will head to Las Vegas for their release show on Halloween night, sharing the bill with rockabilly queen Wanda Jackson.