Big & Rich

At the outset of City, Big Kenny Alphin and John Rich declare, "Somebody's got to be unafraid to lead the freak parade" -- and they're clearly the men for the job. As on last year's Horse of a Different Color, they delight in tweaking country conventions, and, thanks to a combination of goofiness and smarts, they generally get away with it.

The two stop short of C&W anarchy, throwing in songs such as the thoroughly conventional "I Pray for You" and "8th of November," an ultra-sincere tribute to an aging Vietnam vet, as sops to traditionalists. They also reach out to the redneck-rebel crowd, insisting amid the boisterous title cut that they "scared the hell out of Marilyn Manson." That's a dubious claim, but the cheerfulness at the core of tunes like "Jalapeño," which they count off like Anglo Sam the Shams, gives their music a much spicier flavor than most of what passes for country music these days.

Comin' to Your City is a parade on plastic. Clear the streets.


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