Sup y’all? =) President Hoodie here with the first of my beer and chiptune review columns in quite some time! I know, I know; you’re all wondering, “Brandon, what in the hell made you think to knock the dust off that ol’ thing and bring it back?” In a few words:
Shitty Miller Lite and Bud Melvin
Why Miller Lite? Who cares. It sucks (ratebeer.com actually gives it a zero lol).
Let’s get on to the real reason for this article: the music. Specifically, Bud Melvin‘s latest release, ‘CNTRY & NESTRNT’.
Some of y’all likely know of my strange love-hate relationship with country music. The endless tropes, the recurring musical elements and lyrical topics, the deluge of cheap light beer, and the generally… unique nature of the fanbase; it’s the best/worst mix of terrible-wonderful that exists in the music realm.
Bud Melvin nails all of this and more with this 4 track EP in a glorious, yet down-to-earth fashion.
Before I go on, do me a favor and hit play on the EP opener, ‘Biscuits & Gravy’.
Take a moment and let the comically thick harmonized a capella refrain wash over you like, well… a trough full of biscuits and gravy. Once it’s done, feel free to rewind and listen again. It’ll set the tone for this article perfectly.
With the double dish of the vocal intro concluded, piggy tracker drums kick in, followed by a solid combo of pedal steel guitar, a walking bassline, and more country as hell vocals (there’s even yodeling before it’s through…!). As if that wasn’t enough, gotta have some of Bud’s signature banjo plunkin’ worked in there too. Lyrically, you get a hilarious, sordid love story wrapped around the southern culinary delight that the song derives its name from. All served, of course, with a cold side of infidelity; it is a country music song after all.
Now that you’re both depressed and good and hungry, skip to track 3, ‘Bartender’, and hit play to rustle up a mighty thirst. Don’t worry. We’re sure as pig shit on a hog farm coming back to track 2 before this is said and done.
No good country music release is complete without a lonelier-than-hell ballad highlighting the “benefits” of alcoholism. Once again, Bud Melvin delivers masterfully. Listen to the opening lines as he croons mournfully right to the very soul:
Bartender, bartender, pour me a drink.
Keep my glass full ’til I’m too drunk to think.
Damn you, Bud, pulling on my beer-soaked heartstrings.
While the lonesome verses are fantastically written (sing, pedal steel! Sing!), the “big country” choruses are the musical highlight of this track; more delightfully over-layered vocal harmony paired with quality tracker work and banjo pickin’. The way the chorus resolves on that three note climb really tickles my fancy as well.
To learn what potentially inspired this sad drunkard’s theme, start up the closing track, a parable-esque story-telling song titled ‘Wet T-Shirt Contest.’
Changing it up on this one, Bud swaps out his banjo for both some country “clean” and rowdy overdriven electric guitar, a couple more tried and true staples of country music. We even finally get an obligatory overdriven guitar lead in this tune (3:24), but not until after the Beck-like talk-singing/”rap” bridge (2:59) concludes, of course. Again, the catchy chorus is the vocal highlight, and is likely to inspire a group of drunk folk to sing “ooooooh yesssssss”.
What really sets this one apart, however, is the tragically hilarious story that Bud spins, the key elements of which are a 32 year old ex-military man who has a life changing misadventure at a local club’s wet t-shirt contest. While any story is open to the listener’s interpretation, I believe deep down in my heart that what Bud is really trying to tell us here is to always use protection. Otherwise you could end up trading in your Ford Truck for a Honda Odyssey, and no one needs that. Even if that mpg is mighty impressive….
This leaves us with the remaining track, ‘Drunk at the Applebee’s’. Once you’re done laughing yourself silly at the absolute brilliance of the song title, hit play to finish this journey in the very best of ways.
The easy CMT-ready platinum single off of ‘CNTRY & NESTRNT’ (or as we call ’em in Bandcamp chiptune land, the “Featured Track”), ‘Drunk at the Applebee’s’ is a catchy, rip-roaring helluva good time, and without a doubt the best damn song on this album. Or hell, judging from how much I grin every time I hear it, maybe THE best damn song, period. At least according to me anyway, and hey, that’s what matters, right?
‘Drunk at the Applebee’s’ even has guest stars, with Jessica Billey playing a mean fiddle throughout, and Chris Leuzinger contributing electric guitar and baritone guitar to the tune. We even get back and forth solos from ’em at key points in the song (fiddle at 0:56, electric guitar at 2:07). Yup, this one’s a surefire hit, ladies and gentlemen.
The lyrics tell another side-splittingly funny story about small-city suburbia life, where the Applebee’s is the “best” bar option in town. It’s a damn funny concept to anyone, but especially to those of us who’ve experienced similar. I mean, shit, those drink specials at happy hour are no joke!
Chug another beer and sing the chorus with me now!
Woe is me, I got a buzz like you wouldn’t believe.
Had 3 or 4 Miller Lites, A couple more in my sights
And I could use some company.
I guarantee, That it’s a pitiful site to see
Woe oh woe is me, I’m getting drunk at the Applebee’s.
Overall, Bud Melvin’s ‘CNTRY & NESTRNT’ is a mix of great production, well-executed country music tropes, damn fun lyrics, and just enough reality to make it stick once you quit laughing your ass off. Maybe I like this album so damn much because I can relate to it more than I should probably admit. Or maybe it really is just this damn good. I’m leaning towards both.
Don’t take my words for it, though. Take Bud Melvin’s:
Buy this album. It’ll get you drunk. -two thumbs up-
[Editor’s note: Bud Melvin did not actually say that. But he might if you asked him to.]
Seriously, let Bud Melvin and the rest of chiptune know that it needs more country music in it by sharing, downloading, and purchasing ‘CNTRY & NESTRNT’. Best few bucks I’ve spent on music in awhile.
In the meantime, see y’all at the Applebee’s. Last one there buys us all a round of Miller Lite.