For the week of 4/2/2012…

“Sometimes I Do” by Social Distortion

If I were exiled to a desert island and I could bring along the music of only five punk bands to listen to, which bands would I choose?  The Clash would be at the top of the list, along with the Dictators.  And I think I’d probably want to bring a few albums by Social Distortion and by the Supersuckers.  (The fifth spot is a toss-up.)

Social Distortion and the Supersuckers have a quality in common that draws me to their music:  Their punk rock is often informed by old-fashioned country, rockabilly, and even blues music.  Wikipedia says that these aren’t the only two bands to play this kind of music, and indeed that they are part of an entire subgenre called “cowpunk.”  Who knew?  Given my enjoyment of these two bands, I guess I should check out some of the other bands pigeonholed under “cowpunk.”

Social D’s fourth album, Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell, doesn’t have a bad track on it.  On this record, frontman and chief songwriter Mike Ness perhaps owes a little more to Johnny Cash than he does to Johnny Ramone – but he strikes an ideal balance between these two influences.  Seriously, I don’t think it’s far off the mark for me to assert that these are the kinds of songs Johnny Cash would have written if he came up in the punk scene in the 1980s.

With the weather becoming ever-nicer, I’ve been driving with the windows down; I’ve therefore had to pick music that feels like it befits such driving.  It didn’t take me long to decide that this CD was the perfect choice.  “Sometimes I Do” is pretty simple in terms of lyrics, but regardless of that, it’s a great song for driving with the windows down.  Other, less lyrically simple tracks that I’ve been blasting on a daily basis include “Born to Lose” and “When She Begins.”  But really, the whole album is terrific, and easily Social D’s best.  Give it a listen.

–Hardiman

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