Asylum Street Spankers
Friday, Feb. 9, High Noon Saloon, 9:45 p.m.
Austin's Asylum Street Spankers have never minced words or played it safe. Their all-acoustic repertoire of '20s jazz tunes, obscure blues, scarifying country ballads and sardonic originals have never been pitched to traditionalists, and their choice of instrumentation dares fellow travelers with punk pasts to break their addiction to high decibels and pay attention to the music first. Then there was the beautifully conceived Spanker Madness, a tribute to old-time 'reefer music' that reveled in songs about dope and beer with tongue firmly planted in cheek.
Many 12-year-old bands would be content to coast on those kinds of achievements for the rest of their days, but the Spankers aren't done ripping a jagged hole in audiences' expectations. The gut-busting new video for their Tony Orlando lampoon 'Stick Magnetic Ribbons on Your SUV' is a case in point. Even without the visuals, it's a devastating piece of political satire. But the Spankers (who point out that current and former members of the band have served in the military) really stick it to empty Bush-era displays of patriotism in the video, as they put a salacious spin on clean-as-a-whistle barbershop quartets and use an updated soft-shoe dance routine to expose the horrific absurdities of the Iraq occupation. The video's a minor hit on YouTube.com, and it's easy to understand why.
While 'Stick Magnetic Ribbons' has been attracting admiring press, the Spankers are actually touring a new quasi children's album called Mommy Says No! that examines the 'joys and anxieties of being a kid.' With group co-founder Guy Forsyth now a part-time member of the group, front woman/ musical-saw ace Christina Marrs and her male foils, Wammo and Sick, are assigned the task of describing the world through the eyes of the sawed-off set. Swinging self-penned tunes like 'You Only Love Me for My Lunchbox,' 'Boogers' (in which Wammo declaims, 'The Eiffel Tower and members of the rock group U2 are made of boogers') and 'Training Wheel Rag' draw inspiration from Shel Silverstein, Maurice Sendak and Dr. Seuss, and they're a hoot and a half.
It's a cinch that all of them will bring smiles from the kiddies, and that's nice. But they'll leave adults laughing uncontrollably and gasping for air.