by J.R. Lind
Upon hearing a Jason & the Scorchers record for the first time, my grandmother declared: "This is what country music would sound like if everybody kept drinking and smoking and fighting in the '70s instead of trying to make pop music." She made that awesome and totally accurate statement in 1996, and the record in question was the then-new Clear Impetuous Morning, the cowpunk godfathers' last release of new material.
Flash forward 14 years: My grandmother still thinks country is too much pop and not enough stomp, even more removed from the hard-drinking, chain-smoking, shit-kicking honky-tonking days of her youth. Too many broken teenage hearts, not enough broken whiskey glasses. Just in time, The Scorchers return with Halcyon Days, their first album of all-new stuff, due out Feb. 23, described breathlessly in a press release as "a rock 'n' roll record every bit as dynamic and mind-blowing as their vintage work."
Scorchers devotees -- having had to make do for more than a decade on live records, B-sides and releases from Farmer Jason (Scorchers' lead singer Jason Ringenberg's solo kids' music project) -- are promised "a creative leap forward" and "moments of sublime grace." Joining Ringenberg and guitarist Warner Hodges -- the only remaining members of the band's classic lineup -- are bassist Al Collins and preposterously named drummer Pontus Snibb, who comes either from Sweden or from J.K. Rowling's endless pile of discarded Harry Potter secondary characters.
The payoff of the album is not the fact it covers "a staggering range of emotions and style." The payoff is the tour that (probably) surely will accompany the release, and all that a Scorchers performance provides: Ringenberg's leaping and chicken dancing, Hodges' guitar tossing and Snibb's faithful execution of the Levicorpus spell. I hope it's all there and it all kicks ass.
So does my grandma.