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Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash

Our critics' picks in new releases


Buck Owens put Bakersfield on the map in the '50s with his distinct sound and Dwight Yoakum picked up the flag and continued marching the California-country sound on into the 21st century. But Bakersfield is a long drive from San Diego, home of the Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash. The genesis of acts like Blink 182, Frank Zappa and Iron Butterfly, SD just doesn't get props in the country community. Until now. Mark Stuart, head-Bastard-in-charge, has crafted many a fine song while cruising the coast in his 1970 Monte Carlo, and "Walk Alone" is proof positive. "Texas Sun" kick-starts the disc with the classic country line, "I woke up and drank a fifth of Beam," and the buzz just keeps growing from that bourbon injection. "440 Horses" paints such an evocative picture of a desperate man behind the wheel that you can smell the pomade and billowing Marlboro smoke surrounding this white-knuckle victim of highway fever. The title track is a song that should be (and hopefully will be) found in every honky-tonk jukebox, East or West Coast. "I'm happy to wallow in my own misery/Sometimes a man just needs to walk alone," mourns Stuart, exalting the classic cowboy-loner archetype. Somewhere in between the surfers, the punks and the rastas, twangy country managed to seep in to this SoCal quartet, and what they're exhaling is a powerful, whisky-scented sound.

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