Any band that’s got a curse word in its name is bound to be dead set on turning things upside down. This is definitely true of Portland, Oregon’s I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch In The House, whose brand of country is pretty much about as backward as you can get while still operating within the genre. With their latest release, Mayberry, this band has shown that guitar-drive music from the south does not have to be about pickups and heartbreak.
To be fair, the band isn’t strictly categorized as country. Their music showcases influences of punk and alternative that helps I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch In The House live up to their name. Energetic riffs fill up the midsections of the most upbeat tracks, enough to leave you dizzy. Themes range from songs about small-time dreams (“Break All Your Strings”) to big-time political messages (“Bones”). The band even takes time to put a new spin on an old country trope on personal favourite “I Give Up (The Puppy Song).” As the song’s narrator laments the state of the world and his hatred for everything except his trusty puppy dog, one can only think of the track as a less ridiculous version of the Shane Yellowbird ditty, “Pickup Truck.”
At times, Mayberry seems like it could have been the soundtrack to Django Unchained, or some other, similarly modern and bloody take on the old western genre. In a way, the album takes on that quality in and of itself — like an audio manifestation of what Tarantino’s latest was attempting to achieve. It takes what is familiar and makes it edgier, though not quite as gruesome, and, at the end of the day, much more appealing. I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch In The House’s country is, unlike most other artists operating within the genre, a brand that I can easily get behind.