A good deal more polished than their name might suggest, Pennsylvania’s Povertyneck Hillbillies specialize in a brand of hard-driving country music that’s as likely to draw a capacity crowd to a biker bar as it is to a honky tonk. One reason for the country genre’s ongoing identity crisis is that there’s little to nothing that’s recognizably “country” in the traditional sense about many of the genre’s most popular acts: Montgomery Gentry is a rock band fronted by two men who happen to bear thick Kentucky drawls, Keith Urban is marketed as a pop singer in every non-U.S. market, Kenny Chesney is a tone-deaf Jimmy Buffett knock-off, and Rascal Flatts, for whatever reason, aspire to be R.E.O. Speedwagon. A band like Povertyneck Hillbillies, on the surface, appear to be baiting a country audience in the same way—really, the combination of “poverty,” “redneck,” and “hillbilly” images suggests a pretty damn remarkable kind of marketing genius—since most of the 10 tracks on their proper debut (following two successful regional releases) sound like a bar band. It’s to the band’s credit, then, that the content of their songs falls smack in the middle of stone country territory. Though the images on songs like opener “The Night That Changed My Life” and “Any Road” are well-worn, over the course of the album those images do make a clear, definitive statement—that, however loudly they might play their electric guitars, Povertyneck Hillbillies want to be taken seriously as a country band. If not exactly a revolutionary, earth-shattering debut, Povertyneck Hillbillies is nonetheless a more credible, better executed alternative to Van Zant’s Get Right With The Man or Shooter Jennings’s Electric Rodeo. With enough of a promotional push—and CMT seems game—Povertyneck Hillbillies are primed for far more than just localized success.
- Release Date
- June 6, 2006
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