Born Liars, Show Some Couth
Ah, the Born Liars. No matter what else is going on in life, I can always, always, always count on these four guys to bring the raw, sharp-edged, snarling/spitting garage-rock/punk, and to do it well.
And just like always, on Show Some Couth Jimmy Sanchez, Bill Fool, Josh Wolf, and Charles Larrabee sneer and stomp their way through a solid ten songs of distorted buzzsaw guitars, gutbucket Chuck Berry/bluesy riffs, and bob-your-head rhythms, and bitterly vitriolic lyrics, and they leave me smiling. If you don’t know this band but you like garage-y punk, well, you’re sorely lacking in knowledge; honestly, these guys have become the benchmark by which I judge other garage-rock-slash-punk bands.
Beyond the music, they’re a relentlessly no-frills, no-bullshit crew, putting out their own records on a handful of self-run labels (Cutthroat and now Little T&A/LTA, so far), playing and touring in strict DIY fashion, and promoting themselves only sporadically at best; hell, they don’t even have a Facebook page that I can find, just a four-years-out-of-date Myspace page. And yeah, that makes me like ’em even a little bit more.
What truly sets this band apart, though, is a little more on the musical side than that. Sanchez and Fool (who I think are the primary songwriters; correct me if I’m wrong, guys) write these songs that are almost subversive lyrically; under that grimy, bluesy garage-rock fuzz, there’s an actual story lurking, kind of a glimpse into the life of the down-and-out, bar-dwelling crowd in our fair city.
Now, I’m pretty sure the guys in the band would shrug this off or deny it completely, but I’m serious: the Born Liars are storytellers at heart, it seems like, and so every song on Show Some Couth paints a gritty, rough, sometimes hard-to-look-at scene, complete with a cast of characters as fully realized as any short story. What I keep coming back to, weirdly, is Tom Waits — like the classic barfly blues/soul/whatever-he-is songwriter, the Liars draw you down into their world, which is a realm full of hard-drinking, heavily-tattooed, leather-wearing dudes, brutal, gorgeous-yet-poisonous women, and dimly-lit bars.
Listening to Couth is like sitting down at the bar one late, late night next to a hollow-eyed dude drinking cheap Bourbon. After a few drinks, he starts to open up about the life he lives in that bar (and others like it), chronicling his pain and bitterness on songs like “Barely Alive” and “Nobody’s Friend” and ranting about the hurt caused him by women (“Eyes To Despise”), before moving on to the absolute low point with “Misery Jim,” where singer Sanchez declares he doesn’t have a single friend over a bumping, surf-y boogie.
He’s not complaining, mind you, because fuck it — this is the life he’s chosen. He knows full well where he is and what he looks like, but at the same time he knows he’d never fit in the world of 9-to-5, suburbs-dwelling straights (like me, and probably like you, as well). And hell, he’s almost defiant about it on “I Ain’t You,” declaring that he’s not like the rest of his family and can’t live his life like they live theirs. Fuck anybody who thinks otherwise.
And with that, he gives you a crooked grin and orders another round. You’re buying, right?