Sarah Shook & the Disarmers

Presented/Guest
Them Cooulee Boys
Date
Friday, March 22, 2019
Time/Doors
Doors 8 | Show 9
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Description

When Sidelong, Sarah Shook & the Disarmers’ debut album, was released in early 2017, it quickly earned kudos for its blast of fresh, fierce honesty and sly wit. It was a welcome new voice in a genre too often mired in the staid and conventional. And while that record may have come to many as a surprise, Years solidifies the point: Sarah Shook & the Disarmers have moved from getting people’s attention to commanding it. The album–with its sharpened songwriting, unique perspective, deepened sound and roll-up-your-sleeves attitude–will grab you by the collar and put a defiant finger to your chest. It is resolute, blunt, and unflinching.

Inspired by artists such as the Sex Pistols, Elliott Smith and Hank Williams, Sarah sings with confidence, control, and, at times, a hint of menace. The Disarmers match her on every track, coloring the tales of resilience and empathy with as much urgency as ever as well as a broader sonic sweep. It’s easy to hear Sarah as a close cousin to artists like Hurray for the Riff Raff and Margo Price on the title track, or in the country-‘60s mod vibe on “Lesson.” “Good as Gold,” sporting a kiss-off line for the ages, “You’re as good as gold/ I’m as good as gone,” is both vulnerable and defiant, soaring with pop-inflected harmonies. And with an expansiveness evoking the wide-open West, “What it Takes” speaks to the truth of the record, to her life, and to the universe.

At its pounding heart, Years crackles with a pointedly contemporary and relevant take on the outlaw spirit. Built around the buoyant pedal steel of Phil Sullivan, and the post-punk rattle and Live at San Quentin hum of Eric Peterson’s guitar, there are echoes of Nikki Lane and Merle Haggard as much as Ty Segall. Its home is the ragged-but-real honky tonk, not the bro-country “honky tonk.” The barroom singalong “New Ways to Fail” is classic, smile-through-the-pain country. “Damned If I Do” could be the “Drivin’ Nails in My Coffin” of the 21st century, if we let it; a perfect song for rolling in the wry and sneaking in a quick two-step. The sinister “The Bottle Never Lets Me Down” will get anyone who’s ever been wronged righteously flipping the bird as they knock back the next shot. Therapy in the face of personal devastation takes many forms, after all.

As Sarah herself tells it... This record is about finding a way. A way through exhaustion, depression, betrayal, hangover after hangover, upper after downer after upper, fight after never-ending fight. It’s about picking yourself up and dusting yourself off after years of being trampled and beaten down, jutting your chin out, head high, after they’ve done their worst, and saying, “Still here.”

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Them Cooulee Boys

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Them Coulee Boys craft a brand of Americana that blends punk, bluegrass, and rock & roll. Guitar, banjo, mandolin, bass, and drum provide the pulse that drives their original music. They are currently finishing up their 3rd album (Spring 2019 release), which is being produced by Dave Simonett of Trampled By Turtles. They are supporting Trampled By Turtles on tour in January. Founded in late 2013, Them Coulee Boys have quickly become a force on the Midwest music scene. Them Coulee Boys live shows are energetic affairs, with a constant passion and sincerity evident in each song they play. Some songs it's an infectious stomp, inviting the listener to dance along. Driving banjo, guitar, mandolin, and bass provide a backdrop for fast-paced narratives about love and life, ordinary or incredible. Other songs leave room for space, with ambient electric banjo and finger picked instrumentation accompany songs dealing with the harsh realities of things we cannot control. These are songs from a band that is not afraid to take chances. These are songs from a band that's comfortable stripped down, or turned way up. These songs are deeply personal and entirely relatable. Maybe that's what makes theses songs so easy to sing along with, and these performances so moving. You're invited to feel a whole range of emotions, and that makes for shows that you won't soon forget.