Looking for more out of their Wednesday nights than beer drinking and political discussions, three long-time friends, all reformed professional musicians from the 80's, began playing music once a week in a Silver Lake basement. At first they could think of nothing more fun to play than some folksy old cast-offs from their ex-bandmate Johnny Hickman of Cracker. As time went on, they dropped most of the Hickman songs (one, 'Southern Cal' remains on this CD) but kept the band name as an homage to their friend and songwriting hero. Though in recent live Los Angeles area shows the band has developed an acoustic, political, rant-rock approach, here they are blissfully non-attentive to things like uniformity of style and appropriateness of material. Rather, the selections in this fine debut effort are all over the broad map of American music: rock, pop, acoustic, country, bluegrass, even a tinkling, jazzy lounge number. But even as they flex their songwriting muscles they trash their heroes: The Band's 'The Weight' is here given a compressed, electronic, almost techno feel, while Bowie's 'Ziggy Stardust' becomes 'Willy Stardust', a stripped-down, two-step, beer-sodden nod to pick-up trucks and red America. Even the Johnny Hickman cover has elicited rolled eyes and tongue-clucks from it's suitcase-hoarding creator. Tough. The Hickmen have aimed to please no one but themselves with this effort. Stay tuned: their upcoming second record will actually try to piss you off.
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