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The Hickoids do Britain

The Hickoids
Kicking It With the Twits
Saustex Media, 2011
Reviewed by Kent Manthie

Austin, TX’s Hickoids are back, after their country-ish turn on Waltz A-Cross-Dress Texas. Country isn’t the only label to slap on these guys because that would 1) it would be bad for their image – what self-respecting artist(s) would want to be known as a “serious” country performer? And 2) it isn’t quite true: the Hickoids mix it up with a little Texas-style, Johnny Cash-style country, Psychobilly like The Cramps and Southern rockabilly like Reverend Horton Heat and a nod towards that scene.

2011 finds these guys turning the tables on some of the “British Invasion” bands, on their new album, Kickin’ It With the Twits, on Saustex Media, by doing covers of songs by bands like The Who, Rolling Stones, Mott the Hoople, Slade, The Damned and – a BIG surprise: the penultimate song is an obscure Brian Eno song: “Needle in the Camel’s Eye”(!), one of my favorite Eno songs, along with “Baby’s on Fire”, “The Great Pretender” and “Third Uncle” among many others.

Besides the surprising Eno cover, The Hickoids take off their spurs, hang up their Stetsons and don some black Levi’s, leather and long-haired attitude for their new CD, Kicking it With the Twits, a disc full of covers of songs from the 60s “British Invasion”. A little ironic when you realize that the kind of music that drove those English bands like The Beatles, Stones, Kinks and the Move, did with the long repertoire of obscure black bluesmen: now-legends like Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Elmore James and Bo Diddley amongst many more – like Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry and Brian Wilson, a few of Paul McCartney’s. Also, The Rolling Stones got their start singing raucous, raunchy blues numbers, unvarnished, unpolished, raw and ready to rumble.

Later on, after all the “flowers” wilted away and the cult of death that was New York City, circa 1968, rose up, ignited by a pall in the atmosphere that was a black cloud sucking all the peace, love & understanding from the air and replacing it with the stench of heroin, death and war.

But it wasn’t very long that that type of dysphoric sadomasochism was displaced, amongst hipster FM DJs who, after a short absence of creativity, discovered that there was, brewing on the horizon, a new form of music and a new way of life called GLAM, which, after the same ups and downs and turn-arounds, morphed into two forks: punk and new wave/Goth: The Stooges, MC5, The Clash, Sex Pistols on the punk side and new wave prototypes like Bauhaus, Joy Division, The Cure, David Bowie (in his Thin White Duke/Eno phase: “Heroes”, Low, Lodger and Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps). Those were the laid back days of the smiling seventies, when music was starting to split off into two directions: the conformist, corporate-owned schlock that made listening to your average radio station a complete hell and the independent, self-absorbed (in a good way), virtuosic and versatile beauty that came from deep-thinking, innovative, original artists who were not interested in the status quo but wanted to turn it upside down and shake all the money out of it.

So, what it comes down to is that Kicking it with the Twits is a cover album wherein the guys show what they can do by re-tooling some old classic tunes. Some of the more outstanding songs on Kicking it… include: The Who’s “Pictures of Lily”, The Stone’s classic, “Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadow?” Then they have some covers from the 70s glam era, minus T. Rex, unfortunately. But what is there, is, a cover of “Bennie and the Jets”, Mott the Hoople’s “Whizz Kid” and the coolest cover on the CD, Brian Eno’s “Needle’s in the Camel’s Eye”.

I’m awfully glad I didn’t totally give up on the Hickoids. Their previous album was a hoedown, raucous party jam, but a little too Southern-fried for me, but with this new release, Kicking it with the Twits I apologize and give them another chance. If they can jump from the Roadhouse to Studio 54 just like that then they’re capable of many things.

Here’s hoping they’ll be in town soon!

-KM

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