Punk and country are generally considered opposite ends of the music spectrum, but they have more in common historically than most people realize. Long before event the emergence of alt-country a couple decades ago, amphetamine-popping, whiskey-gulping, pot-smoking badasses like Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson played the roughly same role in Nashville that The Ramones, Iggy and the Stooges, and others were filling in New York.
That outlaw spirit has faded since back in the day, but Country Lips might be the pick-me-up line of speed country needs to start kicking ass again. They have a Wu Tang-sized lineup (eight members, including accordion and fiddle players) and they have steadily rocked the shit out of every venue and festival in the greater Seattle area since releasing their debut Touched on 10-inch vinyl in 2012. Now they have a proper LP – Nothing to My Name – and have embarked on their first West Coast tour with a stop Sunday night at The Overpass in Silver Lake.
Country Lips sound retro in a Jack White sort of way, borrowing the core elements of classic cuts and building something loud, funky, and original. They are known for batshit, tequila-fueled live shows – they bill themselves as “Seattle's premier country mess” – and have become darlings of the tastemakers at local indie superstation KEXP. (Check out their live in-studio performance from last year and peep the unironic bolo ties and cowboy hats.)
Make no mistake: The shit is country. There is an unmistakable twang to the guitars and a familiar feel to the chord progressions and harmonized choruses that will probably turn some people off. That said, the songs feature filthy guitar licks galore and some slick keyboard solos that make it palatable for the indie crowd. And anybody who digs on George Jones, Johnny Cash, and the Flying Burrito Brothers should be prepared to have their minds blown.