Forged in the spirit of Fat Possum bands — no-frills, oven-roasted, rambling, rawhide whipped, scrappy-eared garage music — this partnership between between Box Car Satan and Ghostwriter yields the best results on the spare and puncturing “Blood on My Mind,” until the Beefheart noise jam sorta fizzles the track at the end. For a coughing Chevy minute, you might think a hint of bands like Laughing Hyenas, Mule, and Chrome Cranks have returned full force on “Traveling Man,” with its grinding, messy, loud as a broken chainsaw punk blues, replete with whiskey-choked, alligator gurgle vocals and drums that sound like oil cans being pounded with tree limbs. The lead track, “Dead Man’s Hand,” starts off with a charred, meaty maelstrom that could reside in Tom Waits lore. They also spread their umbrella wide, remaking the likes of Merle Travis, Woody Guthrie, Townes Van Zandt, and Bob Dylan’s fierce “Serve Somebody,” which unveils the sad, meager fact that we’ll all serfs, in some form.
The originals hold strong and firm, like the misanthropic “People,” about the folks who create schisms and baptisms, got something up their sleeves, and make places in which you can’t breathe. Yet, prison and anger will just eat you up, so I guess the song is a way to mitigate all the frustration and fuss. “Yuppie” sets the same tone, letting us know the protagonist hates shopping but loves staying up all night long: hence, a dimestore lumpen-proletariat existence is better than all the fancy goods in the world. The song’s full of rotten spleen and screaming girls, yet “Jesus Christ” perhaps finds some kind of redemption, via Woody Guthrie, in extolling the mystic carpenter – the original halo’d helper of the sick and poor. Too bad he was betrayed, just like the singer seems betrayed by all the people in this muddy world.