Written by Samuel Barker
Nov 02, 2013 at 02:00 AM
ImageMany years ago, I picked up a Drag the River’s Live at the Starlight album. For a lot of kids into punk rock, especially southern ones, this was a validation of their affinity for country music. Most of us had grown up with our grandparents and parents blasting classic country at us and here were people we knew from punk bands playing their songs in the same vein, as well as doing covers from folks like George Jones and Steve Earle.

Now, after a few albums, a breakup and a few more reunion albums, I’m holding in my hands their latest, self-titled effort. Times are good, folks.

Their prior release, You Can’t Live This Way, is, in my opinion, their finest complete album. There was not a weak song on the album. It seemed impossible that the songwriters for Drag the River, Chad Price and Jon Snodgrass, could make something that stood up next to it. How prolific could they really be? Despite numerous Drag the River releases, Price has a solo album and Snodgrass has a solo album and various splits he’s done with folks like Cory Branan. How can two guys write so many great songs? Even the great ones rarely had entire albums that were strong from start to finish.

I’m not sure how they do it, but this album is right there with You Can’t Live This Way.

Some of the songs were featured on the fundraiser release, Demons 2010, but only a few. That is the first thing that blew me away. For those who don’t know, Snodgrass and Price did some demos of various songs they were planning on recording for the new album. They released them as a “pay what you want” fundraiser to help finance a true recording of the songs. Despite being some solid efforts, it appears Price and Snodgrass scrapped most of them and wrote more songs, which is why this album is so strong.

You already know how I feel about the album, but allow me to give you some highlights:
Wichita Skyline is the opening track of the album. It captures the down and out drunkard viewpoint that Price gravitates towards perfectly; the search for a sliver of hope or happiness amongst the despair and self-destruction. It’s right there with Brookfield from You Can’t Live This Way.

History with History is right there with Wichita Skyline as my favorite track on the album. This is one of Snodgrass’ tunes, which make up most of the backend of the album. It is also one of the songs from the Demons 2010 release, re-recorded, of course. A good look at how life has changed and the disasters/events that make up memories. An awesome tune.

I could break down more songs, but I think it will be better to let you just enjoy the 8 other tracks on the album. While the album is not out today, it will be released on Tuesday. There might be some online outlets that have it now, but until then, check out You Can’t Live This Way or one of their other releases to get a preview.