The Imperial Rooster are one of those bands, like Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show or Southern Culture on the Skids, who come around once a decade or so. The type of band who can play, sing, and write as well as anybody, but also injects plenty of humor into the mix. Love songs, murder ballads, drinking songs, political anthems. That shit's all well and good, but every band covers that ground. It takes a true talent to move out of that comfort zone and do something fun and original.
Hailing from Santa Fe, the Rooster and their brand of hippie jug band country has been rapidly gaining an audience since the release of their debut album Old Good Poor Crazy Dead was released last year. While that was a great record in it's own right and makes for a fine introduction to the band, they really seem to have grown a lot since that album and on the newly-released Decent People, they display a tighter sound, more concise songs, and better chemistry in general. And the addition of an accordion player certainly doesn't hurt.
The album opens with the band's theme song "Anything Goes at a Rooster Show" and I have it on good authority that the sort of wild, anarchistic atmosphere detailed in the song is actually a pretty good representation of the band's live performances. This is the type of song that is destined to become an underground classic and if the line about "L. Ron Hubbard telling Satan about Inner Light" doesn't strike you as funny, I seriously question your sense of humor.
While it's impossible for the rest of the album to live up to the standard's set on the opening track, the banjo-heavy second song "Korhn Sirup Sundae" comes close. While holding onto the Rooster's unique humor, this tune also adds in a nice bit of social commentary while ensuring that the album will never be sold at Wal-Mart.
Elsewhere on the album, they play the "DWI Marijuana Blues," a country-rocker with lyrics that are too good not to be true and deliver the ballad "God Has Left the Building," which should be playing nonstop on the jukebox of every honky-tonk in America.
My favorite song here is "McGinty's," a bittersweet ode to an "old Irish pub on the far side of town." Perhaps the thing that makes this song so endearing is that we all know a place like McGinty's and the folks who frequent it. Next up is the uproarious "I Like the Way," which will also be featured on an upcoming XXX compilation album.
While much of the material on Decent People is a bit more accessible than their previous album, diehard Roosterites will really dig tracks like "The Beast on the Backs of Our Children" and "The Vintage." In short, this is a record that offers something for everybody. Whether you're partying with a few dozen other people or sitting alone and depressed, this is the album you need to be playing. If there is any justice in the world, these guys (and gal) will be the next big thing.