Rocky Votolato has come full circle. Prior to going solo he was in a post-punk/emo band called Waxwing. On his new album Brag & Cuss, set to be released on June 19th by Barsuk, the influences of his Texas childhood are more apparent. Votolato was born in and spent his early childhood in rural Texas. His father was a member of a motorcycle gang called the Scorpions, who at the time were rivals of Hell’s Angels. The songs on Brag and Cuss involve characters that could just as easily appear in the songs of fellow Texans like Guy Clark, Joe Ely or Robert Earl Keen. Lyrically the songs could also easily fit in a Texas roadhouse. Musically though instead of roadhouse rockers the songs on Brag and Cuss are well crafted low to mid-tempo songs that mix his Texas influences with a mature singer-songwriter style.
The connection Votolato feels to his own personal history show lyrically as in “Red Dragon Wishes” where the protagonist laments “There’s some demon way down South some kind of confederate ghost. It holds me close and shows me where to go until I’m sure I’m lost…but some mistakes can’t be undone it’ll never be like it was and wishing for it only makes it worse.” Votolato hooked up with a group of talented friends on this album. Brag and Cuss features James McAlister (Sufjan Stevens) on drums, Bill Herzog (Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter) on bass, Case Foubert (Pedro the Lion) on Electric Guitar and Rick Steff (Hank Williams Jr.) on Hammond B3 and keyboards. The result is a collection of songs that together make a unified body of work.
I originally published this review on: http://twangville.com/