Before they released Better Times, The Ones to Blame were just one of the two epitomizing Gainesville bands, along with Whiskey & Co., that played sloppy southern brash country drinking music, seemed like they hardly ever practiced, and never recorded new material—either because they were too busy or too lazy or because Gainesville actually is just that laid back. You always got the feeling The Ones to Blame were busy and Whiskey & Co. were lazy. But Better Times is such a fully realized album that it makes you feel guilty for ever resenting a band for not being fully active. Like Whiskey & Co.’s opus Leaving the Nightlife, Better Times is working at the peak of its genre. This is 9B bread and butter. Yes, Butter Times are coming for us all.
Lines like this kind of embody The Ones to Blame: “Alcoholics, pill poppers, good ol’ pot-heads/ all the men I swore I’d never take to bed / I dated all the losers I wish I never knew / and now I’m just looking for a man I can screw.” They make good-time music. But if they didn’t fill the album with painfully beautiful harmonies and all the requisite angry sass, this whole thing would go up in smoke as soon as some drunk frat boys screamed one of these self-depreciating lines back at them during a live show. The women of The Ones to Blame are experts at not cornering themselves like that. They help carve out the place in country music that isn’t as secure for women as it is for men—the place, simple as it sounds, where you can say what you want and not have it turned back on you as a threat.
The Ones to Blame are as badass as Neko and Carolyn and Loretta and Dolly and better than Those Darlins and whatever other chumps are out there. Like I said, their music is pure fun and punk and beauty and Essential Listening.