Delusions Of Banjer

7 July 2019

The Bad Livers – “Delusions of Banjer”

Living in a rural area and going to a small high school (with only about 250 kids), I find it very hard to find kids who share the same appreciation for underground music and punk rock I do. There are a handful of kids around who do (a skater, a fisherman, and the occasional computer freak), but when the majority of kids walk around singing Garth Brooks’ “I’ve Got Friends in Low Places,” it can get rather depressing. That is why I love it when an album like this comes around. An album that brings the Chevy truck-cap-wearing country boys together with the Doc Marten-wearing punks is definitely all right on my list. And the beautiful part about it is that everyone wears flannel.

On “Delusions of Banjer,” the debut album by the Bad Livers, this Austin, Texas band mixes together the two most popular genres of music: country and grunge.

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It is really hard to put any label on this cross-over album. You can call them a bluegrass band, an acoustical punk band, a plain and simple country band or even, as Al Jourgenson of Ministry said, “the greatest living band on earth.” Whatever you call them, there is no doubt that these guys are very different from most other country, bluegrass, or punk bands around today.

The Livers incorporate a little of the grunge sound into their music, but you won’t find any fuzz boxes or feedback on this mostly acoustic album. In fact, you won’t even find any gut-wrenching screams or mournful groans. You will, however, find a lot of the similar attitudes of grunge expressed. For instance, songs like “Six Feet Down” and “How Dark My Shadow’s Grown” show the Livers writing about death and depression, two common themes in both country music and grunge.You do not even have to listen to this album to find who influences the Bad Livers. One glance at the cover photo will tell you who these guys appreciate. One of them is wearing a Big Black t-shirt (the now-defunct Chicago-based band which featured Steve Albini) and stickers of the Misfits, Butthole Surfers, and Motorhead grace the surface area of the huge string bass shown in the picture. And if that is not enough, the album was even produced by Paul Leary, the insane guitarist of the Surfers. So, as you can obviously see, these guys have definitely learned from the best.

Whether you like the twangy country-rock of Garth Brooks or the apocalypse-in-my-backyard noise of the Surfers, “Delusions of Banjer” will give you something you can appreciate. And to all of you original grungesters who are ticked off at the rock media, the entertainment industry and the fashion designers who have contributed to the commercialization and death of a scene you created, I urge you to get hip to the Bad Livers and their new genre of music. After all, it is pretty safe to say that these guys will never sing the national anthem at the Super Bowl, at least not anytime soon. n

Review by J. G., Hodgdon, ME

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