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Southern Culture on the Skids' seventh album kicks off wide open with its title song, a zesty blend of Spanish horns and surf guitars. And this is just the beginning of some delightfully mismatched genre mixin'. Throughout the album, what comes from their self-described "halter-top pop" are heaping doses of punk, blues, leisure suits, swamp romps, cigarette burns, soul, unread Bibles, dance lessons, country and warm shots of bourbon, and all of these elements on purée are what make the quartet--who began their career in Chapel Hill a decade ago--such a refreshing and respectable outfit.

Liquored Up And Lacquered Down sees Southern Culture on the Skids in their best form yet. Every caper and raid inside of this baker's dozen of songs has "destination hangover" stamped all over it. "Pass The Hatchet" opens with the request, "You got to let me chop it baby," and thereafter, the sexiest guitar you've ever heard dirty-dances around chain-gang oohs and ahs until someone yells, "Timber!" The two-step anthem "Drunk And Lonesome (Again)" is more authentic than muddy, bloody alligator boots and would make George Jones hang his hat on a hook, swallow 30 shots of Swamp Root and retire.

The album's finest moment of all is "Just How Lonely," crooned by bass player Mary Huff, who is ready to receive her crown in both the "sultry" and "screw you" categories, formerly held by Patsy Cline and Chrissie Hynde respectively. This song is dreamy and melodic and proves that Southern Culture on the Skids can write a song you can sing out loud all day without offending anyone--and they've never done it quite so well.


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