When you listen to a lot of music or spend a lot of time in venues watching bands, you often find yourself lumping CDs into activities that make up your daily routine. I have music that I listen to while I drive to work, CDs that I listen to on my way home, tunes that I clean the house to, records that I draw to/get high to/drink to/go for a run to/etc. You get the point.


I have always been a fan of Carrie Nation, and their first self-titled album was “have a beer after work music” for me. It’s an easy-going record that in my mind celebrates some of the beautiful simplicities of rural living. It can get fast, but not too fast. Some of it’s sad, but it’s not too dark. Listening to Carrie Nation’s self-titled has always helped me unwind after a long day, tapping my foot and dreaming of the fields and country roads that the tracks tell stories about.


So when I picked up Carrie Nation and the Speakeasy’s latest release, “Hatchetations”, I was ready to relax and feel like I was walking on a gravel path with a pretty girl or something. I popped open my beer, had a seat, and leaned back on the couch. Within thirty seconds of the first song I was jolted and spit out my drink. This record starts with a track called “Obis” in which the lyrics tell stories of death and anguish. The guitar is going at a mile a minute, there’s a harmonica that’s wailing like its player is about to be pushed off of a cliff, and a mandolin solo which carries an intensity that made my head spin. Every spastic note of this song is fantastic. They earned my attention with that one. That’s for sure.


The music raged on, with the next track “Consume” ridiculing people that have given into greed and lost all they’ve had. There is not a lick of sympathy in this song; it is an unfiltered criticism of consumer culture and how the ignorance that it encourages can destroy communities. This tune is brutal, and damn is it good. The instruments continue to go at lightning speeds and the horns that join in only make the band go faster. Track one was intriguing, track two was addicting.


The music lets up and slows down for a few of the numbers, but in those there is no light-hearted joy. These slow songs are dark and/or disturbing. “Andersonville” describes the historic Confederate prison camp in Georgia that housed Union soldier POWs. In good detail the singing discusses the disease, famine, and death that this saddening event in American history is known for. God, it’s fucking chilling. I’ve listened to this song so many times and it always manages to give me goose bumps.


But my personal favorite, hand downs, my FAVORITE song on this record is “Trying Times.” This heart-wrenching, barbed-toothed, tear-jerking and simultaneously riot-inciting song paints the tragic pains of classism. A musical portrait of our time, this song puts you in the last spot of the unemployment line. Ghost towns, disappointment and frustration make this beautiful piece what it is. It’s not just about the “trying times” that the economy has put on the classist society, it’s about the complete removal of the identity and pride of the classes that have been hit by the lack of employment in this troubled world. I don’t know whether to burn down the governor’s mansion or have a nervous breakdown when I hear this song. It is amazing.


When you get this record (because you really should), make sure that you don’t have anything in your mouth like I did. Once this music attacks your senses, you will temporarily lose control of your body. You won’t mind though, as you choke on the brutal lyrics and heavy yet acoustic instrumentation you’ll be thanking this band for what they do and begging them for more.


Check out Carrie Nation and the Speakeasy here.




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