A welcome little curiosity from the early 1990s, this. ‘Wiregrass’ – second album from Lexington KY’s Stranglmartin.
The three-piece’s 1991 eponymous debut was a respectable enough introduction to a band who clearly had acres of personality and punk-pop-country sensibilities to share with the world.
But two years after that album on Dragon Street and Musidisc (and a brief UK tour supporting Red Kross, Shoulders and others – Dead Milkmen were supposed to do one of the shows at London’s Islington Powerhaus but pulled out), David Butler’s band had matured hugely. Verily, while that first album’s brow-raising ‘tributes’ to annoying Kentuckians and even more annoying genital conditions was a fun ride, this newie set out an altogether more exciting proposition with honking riffs and an inherent style and character that was pretty damned endearing.
Fugazi-style fiery pop-punk is rife (read also Didjits, Holy Rollers etc), particularly on songs like ‘Sky’ and ‘Watch The Ghosts’ (which, particularly, would stand proudly enough alongside much of what The Posies have produced).
The old Butler humour is there in ‘Hate Your Guts’, which has echoes of ‘Stop Interrupting Me!’ from the first album, but there’s a more serious poetry too. And by the time you get to closing track ‘Wrong’, you might find (like me) that you have discovered a new-old Tim Westerberg.
Stranglmartin split in 1995 or so, leaving a far-too-infrequently-visited legacy of albums and live recordings. The only clips on YouTube are very brief live snippets with the wrong sound – which kind of adds to the mystery, I suppose. It’s a shame there’s not more, because Butler used to do something very odd with his guitar when playing live. You’ll just have to wonder…
There’s a website, www.stranglmartin.com, but not much on it. Sounds-wise, though, Spotify has the lot.
Thanks, Stranglmartin. You were ace.