For Fans Of
Some of you might have known Avail, Virginia’s own punk rock legends. They were kind of a big deal. Once upon a time. Their frontman, Tim Barry, has been doing his own singing/songwriting project since 2004, a number of years before the band broke up. When I heard singer-songwriter, I immediately thought of other solo side projects, and expected Indie-ish folk/pop, maybe slightly less acoustic. Something along the lines of The Spill Canvas, just with less production and more acoustic guitars. Listeners beware, this is not that.
I can’t pretend for a moment I’m a fan of cliche’d country music – nor is it what I expect from punk side-projects. However, that is what we get here with Tim Barry‘s fourth effort, 40 Miler. Country does have its merits… but this is not one such place. There is actually a song on this album where the narrator laments that his girlfriend had sold his gun to pay his bail. If this album were meant to be a parody, it would be hilarious, but there’s an uncomfortable earnesty about it.
The album continues along at an uncomfortable pace of songs that sit just between the lines of being disturbingly serious, and cheerfully whimsical. Then it hits track number nine – Hobo Lullabye. That is actually the title of the song. I think I may have popped a vein in my temple. This is redneckery from a former punk frontman that is such an idealogical and genre theory contradiction that it would have killed Heroin Bob in SLC Punk in the first scene – death by sheer indignity.
There is one track that stands out from the others – Fine Foods Market, which is, frankly hilarious. It’s a fairly typical "let’s point at and make fun of the hipsters" kind of lyric, but it is done very well. This is the only example on this album of anything done adequately, let alone well, so if you’re unfortunate enough to come across this album, please give yourself a pat on the back for listening this far in. Alas, immediately after that, another ludicrous parody of country comes in the form of Amen. It then, limply comes to a close.
There is a right and a wrong way to do anything. If you had taken the instrumental backing of this album, and maybe put it with any kind of lyrical value, that would be doing it right. Instead, what we get is an embellishment of redneck culture, a self-conscious buy-in to a genre that comes across as a joke. Mark this album as "comedy" in the store, and watch it fall off the shelves. But as a serious effort, this falls short on just about every level it possibly can. I would say I was at a loss for words, but I’ve just written a fair few. But hey, look, if you are into this kind of thing, give it a listen. Or you could urinate on Johnny Cash’s grave – both actions are to the same effect.