Editor’s note: This is part of a series of pieces written for Nine Bullets by special guest artists, creators and other friends of the site. Morgan Enos fronts the bands Other Houses, Enos and Hollow Sunshine.
The songwriting-obsessed men and women of the Twang N Bang Records crew will not abide by gimmicks. A loose club of Americana musicians in the small Central Coast town of San Luis Obispo, CA, Twang N Bang has been quietly chugging along under one guise or another for as long as anyone in town can remember, releasing records by groups with earthy, working-class names – 50 Watt Heavy, Dead Volts, American Dirt, The Turkey Buzzards.
While this may not be an easy sell to those allergic to flannel, IPAs or spilling your guts after last call, these totally impervious folks couldn’t care less. In a music scene largely made up of open-mic retirees, winery tours and Billabong-shirted wastoids, these truly are the good guys.
Even by their rough-and-tumble ways, the last few years have brought some changes in the crew. Perhaps most tellingly, the yowling rockers American Dirt, one of TNB’s mainstays since the early 2010s, entered a hiatus. Lead guitarist Jon Bartel, an English professor by day, formed the country-rock project The Creston Line, leaving singers and songwriters Dave Wilson and Brian Sonniksen as a folk duo. While the future of American Dirt seems like a tough call, Dave and Brian are here to let us know they’re Still Drunk.
The 40 Hour Work Week are offhanded and rascally, the scrappier antidote to the Creston Line. Where the latter spare no scrape of a fiddle, weeping pedal steel or detailed character study, you can imagine Dave and Brian sneaking some Jack and Coke into the back of Mr. Bartel’s dissertation on East of Eden.
This five-song result could have turned out a bit wan, if not for their old pal Bartel’s sturdy production (the EP was recorded at his Northwall Studios in Atascadero, CA) and the strength of the two writers. As far as the songs themselves, they’re simple and appealing, mostly work-a-day regrets and odes to blowing off steam. Sonniksen’s soft tenor and Dave Wilson’s mid-range drawl are a lovely combination, one that was less prominent in American Dirt. Still Drunk is simple, repeatable and fat-free. And if you’d like a quick introduction to the sometimes-insular world of Twang N Bang Records, pour yourself two fingers and enjoy.
– Morgan Enos
Keep up with Morgan on his website