Cowpunk, done near-perfectly
Reviewed June 2009
65 More Miles
By Bill Cardinal
Uncle Chuck's Records: 2009
To hear sound clips or learn more about this release, Turbula recommends viewing the artist's MySpace page.
Bill Cardinal, to judge by the photos on his Myspace page, looks a bit like an extra from the movie "Deliverance." At least in those photos where he's got a beard it's one of those ill-fitting beards that makes a man look like he ought to have a 3-sizes-too-small bowler hat perched on his crown and scratch the side of his head a few minutes before answering any questions.
But if his appearance isn't too promising in his photos, the music found on his 10-inch vinyl EP (which includes a free MP3 downloadable version as well) is some of the most in-your-face country-rock San Diego County has heard since the death of Country Dick Montana in 1995.
Like Montana's Beat Farmers, Cardinal plays songs with plenty of country twang to them then lays them down atop a beat equal parts rock 'n' roll and Western swing, singing them with a punk swagger.
The seven songs here include plenty of local geographic references among the tales of drinking, womanizing and pickup trucks. A couple of them are near-perfect classics "Country Man Blues" is so utterly country it could have been sung by Johnny Cash (even though he's referenced in the lyrics), and at the same time rocks so hard that it could have been lifted from a set of the Beat Farmers. "The California Coast" is more of a Bakersfield kind of country song; poetic lyrics coupled to a nicely rollicking melody, while "Country Man's Hymn" is a bit of throwback honky-tonk.
Good stuff, coming (according to his MySpace blog) some three years after he first began performing. If we can get seven songs this good out of Cardinal every three years, San Diego cowpunks should be plenty happy for the foreseeable future.
Review by Jim Trageser. Jim is a writer and editor living in Escondido, Calif., and was a contributor to the "Grove Press Guide to Blues on CD" (1993) and "The Routledge Encyclopedia of the Blues" (2005).