REVIEW: Jesse & The Hogg Brothers — Get Hammered (LP)
Hitting us with a forcefulness that becomes the greatest element of consistency in the tracklist before we know it, Jesse & The Hogg Brothers wield a lot of raw power in the opening cut of their new album, Get Hammered, titled simply “The Hammer.” The track’s compositional premise will be revisited in “Texas Hammer” later on in the tracklist, but here, we’re made to swing with its rhythmic push like our lives depend on it — whether prepared for the dynamic grooves set before us or not. We’re shoved right into the swaggering pulsation of “Cream Gravy” seamlessly, and from there into the explicit “Biker Ann,” and even after less than seven minutes of playing time, it feels like we’re already heard more musical might than most bands could summon in an entire LP.
“Black & Blue” throws away the big amps and replaces them with soft vocal harmonies and an acoustic sensibility straight from the book of “Carmelita,” but its gentle way doesn’t sound all too predictable for us to get trapped in its lush attributes. “She’s Done Gone to the Gittin’ Place” is a bit more angst-ridden, but its respect for an old-fashioned rock n’ roll sway had me at the altar of its gods long before hearing the first chorus. “Wait a Minute” and “Onion Ring” trace their patchwork to the same spot we started with in “Black & Blue,” and while it’s clear a lot of this material was tailored to the wants of legit cowpunk aficionados, there’s nothing here to repel the occasional fan, either.
My favorite tune from the second act in Get Hammered is the overdrive-saturated “We’re All in This Together,” which swings at us like a staggering drunk but surprisingly offers up one of the more acerbic collective performances of any this band will give in the album. “America” is brighter but hardly lighter, unsheathing a rapier-sharp lyrical edge that is difficult to shake from your conscience once you’ve been exposed to it for the first time. Honestly, “Hogg Tail Twist” is probably the only song here that seems a bit thrown-together, but in a fashion that makes me curious about the improvisational depth Jesse & The Hogg Brothers are developing at this stage of their career together. They’d be wild to see live, and a track like this one definitely makes me want to catch their next concert to experience what they can put together in person.
“Love Buckets” and “Santa’s Got a Bag of Coal” could both work as leadoff singles for Get Hammered, but I can understand why the group inevitably selected the latter for the job. In a discordant twist of what a Christmas-style country song could and should sound like, Jesse & The Hogg Brothers summarize precisely why listeners and critics around the globe need to be taking their music and their mission seriously in 2021. This is true rock rebellion and outlaw country as they were always meant to be heard, only packaged together as a means of saving your pocketbook a couple of hard-earned dollars. In its totality, Get Hammered really is a can’t-miss LP for the cowpunk faithful.