Southern Culture on the Skids, Countrypolitan Favorites

Erick Zeidenberg

By Erick Zeidenberg

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

On the covers album Countrypolitan Favorites, Chapel Hill's Southern Culture On The Skids displace some of their customary southern-fried shimmy in favor of a more traditional country flavor. Interpreting a surprising selection of artists, from T. Rex ("Life's a Gas") to the Byrds ("Have You Seen Her Face"), SCOTS bring their distinct charms to the proceedings while revealing the diverse roots embedded in their sound.

As good as a southern swirl of fried chicken and banana pudding.

The opener, “Oh Lonesome Me,” replaces the melancholia of Don Gibson's cowboy standard with a country swing that might make you feel even worse than the original if you don't have a partner to twirl around as you listen. SCOTS then stray far from the American south to the south of England with the Kinks'”Muswell Hillbilly.” More psychedelic garage than the band's typical fare, “Fight Fire” is a nugget from pre- CCR John Fogerty band the Golliwogs — and speaking of CCR, SCOTS 'take on “Tobacco Road” is driven by a guitar riff that belongs down in Creedence's bayou swamps. The party tops off with the celebratory hoedown reworking of the Who's “Happy Jack.”

Sure, the more traditional rootsy tunes here (“Rose Garden”) are no-brainers for SCOTS to cover and they certainly do them justice. But within the nooks and crannies of the less-obvious choices, they manage to find that aspect of even the most unlikely song that begs to be re-born in the trailer park. In the process, SCOTS end up at musical destinations that are far from the starting point. At the same time, these re-workings reveal that the SCOTS sound is founded on something more varied and substantial than a southern swirl of fried chicken and banana pudding.