To give you an idea of the kind of album Hog Bucket’s debut Old Mustard is (as if the names Hog Bucket and Old Mustard didn’t tip you off already), here are some first lines from a few of the songs: “Well you look like the kind of lady who appreciates a real tomato”; “Ooh girl, I wanna lick your legs, come on honey, just a little taste”; “Oh my life’s been so lonesome, but last night I had a foursome”; “I fell in love with a nun, Sister I love you more than Jesus Christ does”; “Oh I take my eggs over easy, take them legs wrapped around my waist.”
So it’s obviously an album that doesn’t take itself too seriously, to say the least. It’s about sex and fun and drunken debauchery. It’s about good times had in younger days. But amongst all that the Brooklyn-based Hog Bucket also dispense some heartfelt emotion. Lead man John Glouchevitch’s songwriting is witty, smart, irreverent (“Break Yer Vows” talks of falling in love with a nun and a Russian callgirl), sometimes laugh out loud funny (lead track “Real Tomatoes” and “Breakfast,” a jazzy duet that turns the most important meal of the day into a sexy romp), and sometimes deeply moving (“Escape,” and “Indigo”). Some songs will probably come across as juvenile to some, but simply put, this is good, smart American music.
Hog Bucket’s influences range from country to classic rock to blues to just about every other form of American music you can think of, and they pull it all off without coming across as trying too hard. I normally wouldn’t call a song about drunken hook-ups “sweet,” but “Talk Like Strangers,” with a chorus that starts, “Why do I only love you when I’m drunk? The sun always shines on us when we’re wasted,” is as sweet as Thanksgiving pecan pie (and includes a clarinet solo). The bluesy “Or What” is a “come on” song that contains some slick slide guitar licks, and lyrics like “they say my tongue is like ancient religion” come off as tongue-in-cheek confidence rather than douchey cockiness, thanks in no small part to Glouchevitch’s hilarious phrasing. On the giddy stringband number “Nothing to Lose,” his ability to weave a witty story is brought to the forefront.
Obvious standout track “Bad Decisions” is a piano-laced classic rock jam that would have fit perfectly on the Almost Famous soundtrack, and everyone can relate to the near celebratory refrain of “How come bad decisions feel so right?” (It also contains a terrific reference to The Beatles’ “Hey Jude,” which might be my favorite part of the song.) Following that is “Escape,” which trades debauchery and cheekiness for earnestness and longing, and “Halloween” is a rather timely song that might give you some costume (and other) ideas for upcoming parties.
After the fiddle-laden penultimate track “O Peyote,” which declares Jesus a letdown and Elvis the true king of heaven, comes “Indigo,” the truly stunning culmination of the album. It’s a beautiful and haunting piano ballad performed with palpable emotion, where even a line like “You’re beautiful in sequined booty shorts” is moving. Glouchevitch then turns around and hits you with “You’re naked on the table, room as empty as your eyes.” I’ve hit repeat on this one several times, but the whole album is well worth listening to. Superbly produced by Jeremy Backofen (The Felice Brothers), Old Mustard is a great debut collection, and one of my favorite albums of 2013 so far. (You’ll find a list of other musicians and vocalists on the recording at Hog Bucket’s Bandcamp page.)
Download Old Mustard (free/name your price)