The Wolverton Brothers are playing at MOTRPub in Over-the-Rhine this Friday, October 26. You seldom get a chance to see the Wolvertons these days—one or two gigs a year, I’m thinking—but their live performances are still as absorbing as when they were regulars at the now-deceased Sudsy Malone’s or The Metro. In fact, their music has only grown more interesting with time. At first their sound combined garage rock with an unorthodox country twang, and even as early as their first album there’s clear evidence of a band that knew how to write memorable songs with lyrics that could be both witty and provocative. Eventually their records included some spacey instrumentals that mixed sampling with their huge guitar sound, a step that made perfect sense to those fans who had witnessed the wide-open improvs during the middle of “Big West” from their eponymous first album.
The Wolverton Brothers don’t play out as much as they used to, and I would assume they spend less time practicing, and they don’t always pack a club like did when short Vine was thriving. Perhaps there’s no explaining, then, why their most recent album was their best to date. Available on cdbaby.com, Crooked was released to little fanfare, but it’s a damn good record. The length is modest (it’s about as long as LPs used to be), and that’s a plus, as Crooked is one of the few CDs I’ve heard that unfolds in such a way that you’d want to hear the whole thing from beginning to finish. More experimental songs bookend the release (tracks 1, 6 & 7), and between that you get four great rock and roll tunes that develop in unpredictable ways, with lots of sinuous guitar lines and lyrics that make just enough to spark your imagination. It seems to me The Wolvertons have always done a stellar job of capturing the madness that washes over us in this post-industrial neck of the woods, but they do so without being pretentious or overbearing. If you’re in need of music to make you drink too much so that you wake up the next morning and wonder why the hell did I do that, trust me, you cannot do better than the Wolverton Brothers. Here, from their Sub-Pop single, is “Max Gomez Love:”