Sound — 8
When a person thinks of outlaw country music, what are some of the names that come to mind in a second? Waylon, Willie, Johnny Cash, the legends. Any fan of country music has heard of these names, but in today's age of autotuned, Southern drawling country-rappers in their backwards baseball caps and perfectly pre-torn blue jeans, the Top 40 "country" radio stations have taken a sour turn. Where's the damn country music? Try asking Wheeler Walker Jr., an entirely new breed of renegade country singer-songwriter.
Thanks to an outrageous marketing campaign, streaming the album for a week, free on PornHub, Wheeler's debut album, "Redneck Shit" debuted at No. 9 on the charts during Grammy week as the first country record to chart with an expletive in its title. That's damn good for an album that's completely unplayable as far as the radio big-wigs are concerned. It's really unplayable for two reasons: one, it's real country music. There's none of that fake, crisp and polished "Florida Georgia Line pop-country dogshit" (Wheeler's own words) to be found.
The sound of this record really does harken back to the 1970's, it's so musically real, very Waylon sounding. Wheeler with his acoustic guitar and a best-of-the-best lineup of Nashville session musicians rounding out the band, electric guitar, steel guitar, bass and a drummer.
Wheeler Walker Jr. certainly isn't "Going down to the river with a girl in her tight blue jeans with a beer and a tractor," or whatever crap the Nashville Machine keeps churning out with every hit Jason Aldean record... Wheeler sings about the real shit. That doesn't exactly fly on radio nowadays (with maybe Chris Stapleton being the shining exception).
However, the unapologetic realness in his voice and lyrics are precisely the second reason Wheeler figured that NO ONE would ever hear his music. Let's just take a look at the track list...
- Redneck Shit
- Beer, Weed, Cooches
- Family Tree
- Can't Fuck You Off My Mind
- Fuck You Bitch
- Drop 'Em Out
- Eatin' Pussy and Kickin' Ass
- Fightin', Fuckin', Fartin'
- Better Off Beatin' Off
- Sit On My Face
- Which One 'O You Queers Gonna Suck My Dick?
Oh... Oh my... It all makes sense now. That's about as real as it gets. And believe it or not, the cleanest titled song, "Family Tree" is the dirtiest, most disgusting tune on the record, but we'll discuss this in a few moments. Let's dig into the meat of the album, shall we? (Hah! I said meat...)
1. "Redneck Shit" - The opening title track really sets the tone for the record. It starts out with a sort of upbeat, swampy riff and hopping drums.
"American by birth and Southern by the grace of God means that everything I do, I do it right
New York and California, you can go and have your fun, but down here I gotta list of what I like"
The record starts out clean enough, if the tune had a hacked hip-hop beat from the 80s behind it, this sounds like it could be a hit right off the bat... Until...
"Eatin' tater-tots and pussy, suckin' Mountain Dew and tit
Kick my grandpa in his nutsack, then I'll suck my bosses dick
Fuck my cousin in her asshole, 'fore I finish on her tits
Then I'll shoot my neighbor's cat, I love that redneck shit"
...And so it begins... The rest of the tune continues down the same dark path, clean, short verses with a different list of alleged redneck activities in each chorus. I think this was a good choice for an opener, as I said, it really sets the tone for the album. If a person gets caught on the hook after just this one tune, by the time Wheeler croons out "eatin' pussy and kickin' ass" halfway through the album, the listener will be down with whatever they're hearing, as outrageous as it may be.
"Takin' pictures of my momma while she's tryin' to take a shit
Throwin' rocks at cripples and I laugh when they get hit
Pull my pecker out at Wal-Mart, then I pop my sister's zits
Jackin' off my neighbor's dog, I love that redneck shit"
2. "Beer, Weed, Cooches" - One of my favorite tunes on the record is definitely "Beer, Weed, Cooches." This is a little less offensive than the title track, it's just a fun-filled Friday night party song, another staple in the current climate of country radio. Even if it's covered up with a clever innuendo, Keith Urban talks about smoking a silly substance in his newest smash single, but the difference is, Wheeler refuses to censor his music. C'mon though, how catchy is this chorus? I've been singing it around the house for days! (Under my breath of course so I don't get the shit slapped out of me).
"Beer, weed, cooches and honky tonk music all night long
Stoned, drunk, fucked up, gettin' my dick sucked all night long"
3. "Family Tree" - Such a quaint title, if you're expecting a pretty little ditty about loving life and cherishing loved ones...You're absolutely right...
"If I had my druthers, I'd butt-fuck both your brothers
I'd grab your sister, take her out back and fist her
Go down on your momma, start a whole lot of drama
Save your dad for last so I can eat out his ass"
Beautiful. Enough said.
4. "Can't Fuck You Off My Mind" - The old country motif "can't drink you off my mind" gets a bit of an x-rated twist here, reminiscent of maybe an old George Jones tune. Trying to get himself back in the game after a breakup, wanting to sleep around as much as possible to forget he ever needed his woman, but it just doesn't work for him.
"While Rita's blowin' me, I'll miss you desperately
I'm screwing Mary Lou, but all I do is think about you
While I'm suckin' on Tonya's tits, still not sure why we called it quits
No I just can't seem to fuck you off my mind"
5. "Fuck You Bitch" - The single of the record, if you could call it that. There's really no such thing as a radio single to be heard on this album, dirty lyrics or not. "Fuck You Bitch" is the cleanest tune on the album. Another breakup song, a classic country mid-tempo ballad. One of two songs that an official music video was produced for (the other being the title track). This is a song about Wheeler finally maybe getting over his feelings for his wayward lover, the heartache turning into a bitter anger. Finally, Wheeler just tells himself enough is enough and realizes the one thing he'd like to tell her if he ever sees her again.
"Fuck you bitch, you broke my heart
Fuck your friends for tearing us apart
Fuck your dog, hope he never comes home
Fuck you bitch, hope you wind up alone"
6. "Drop 'Em Out" - One of only two tunes I'd consider to be filler on the album is "Drop 'Em Out." A short, tune, just over a minute long. What's the subject matter? Boobs of course! The song starts out with just some hand clapping with high and low harmonies before a couple guitars join in the mix. It's kinda catchy and fun, but probably my least favorite, most skipped over song on the record. Could have done without this one, Wheeler.
7. "Eatin' Pussy/Kickin' Ass" - The first song I heard from the album was this one and it's still one of my favorites. Guitar and instrument wise, this tune has always reminded me of Mr. George Thorogood. The bluesy electric guitar riff repeats throughout the entire three minutes, hardly varying at all, but the lyrics are where it's at. The tag line repeats quite often until the third chorus...Then there's another twist...
"Thursday night I was feelin' pretty great, I was walkin' past the honky tonks on Broadway
I see this young girl and she's smiling at me, so I took her back to my place and paid the fee
Took of her skirt I knew that something was wrong, there was 'sposed to be a pussy, this girl had a dong
I was bored and since I paid anyway
I sucked his dick and then I... Kicked his ass"
I would say, rightfully so, at the end of the song you can hear two of the session musicians get angry, unaware that Wheeler was going to go down that road with the lyrics. One immediately yelling out that they don't want their name on the linear notes.
8. "Fightin', Fuckin', Fartin'" - The second filler track on "Redneck Shit"... I never got into this one, it's alright, but there's something about it that just doesn't have me rolling on the floor laughing like my inner twelve year old as most of the record has. It's a song about the cycle of a relationship. They fight, fuck and fart. That's all that's keeping the couple together. It's kinda bland.
9. "Better Off Beatin' Off" - Not quite a breakup ballad, this tune is about exactly what the title implies. What's the point of trying to date if it ends in heartbreak every single time? The song claims that every woman's an unfaithful headache. Not exactly untrue in this reviewer's experiences, but that's besides the point. "Better Off Beatin' Off" is a good song to start winding down the tail end of the album before the big finish.
10. "Sit on My Face" - Here it is, my personal favorite from Wheeler's debut, "Sit on My Face." The longest song on the record at just over four minutes and some eighteen seconds, this is a bit of a love song for those who can't be too picky at the end of the night. When the bar closes and you haven't hooked up with someone you wanna take home, you reach shoulder deep into the bottom of the barrel and pull up the first thing you can grab.
"Sit on my face cause I ain't too picky
Ride my mouth till your puss gets sticky"
Another damn catchy, two-line hook in this song has had me singing and snickering like a schoolboy since the day I first heard it.
11. "Which One 'O You Queers Gonna Suck My Dick?" - The title of this song says it all. This is the coup de grace of "Redneck Shit." The sound changes up a little on this tune with a bit of cowpunk or rockabilly flavor, almost like an Elvis and Hank III hybrid. There's a nice bluesy, ZZ Top sounding guitar solo about midway through the track that breaks into noodling chaos as Wheeler makes all sorts of crazy coos and moans (apparently finding someone to do the deed). After the groans and guitar noise, the track breaks down and changes tempo into an almost Allman Brothers-type slow jam, slowly picking up the pace as Wheeler's "special friend" wants to give him the business again. The album ends like a bottle rocket, with more chaos before it... Climaxes... And fizzles out. The final notes, after an instrumental flourish fade out, closing the book on one of the greatest country records of this year.
Lyrics — 8
As far as the lyrics are concerned, I've already covered the bases here. You get the idea. There's no innuendo or metaphor here, Florida-Georgia Line... Exactly how Wheeler Walker Jr.'s feeling is exactly what we're hearing, no filter, no censor. Does Wheeler have the greatest voice in country music? No. But it definitely fits the sound of his dirty music. Vocally, he sounds a little bit like Jason Aldean, only maybe even more of an exaggerated caricature of what a country singer should sound like.
Overall Impression — 9
"Redneck Shit" was produced by Grammy winning country wizard, Dave Cobb (Chris Stapleton, Sturgill Simpson, Jason Isbell). As horrifying as Wheeler's lyrics may be, again, if you're a fan of real honest-to-goodness country music, for the most part, this is a spectacular sounding record. The instrumentation is very well put together and fits the old school aura of the album.
One quick complaint about the sound of the record would be the level of Wheeler's vocals in the mix of each song. They're too sharp, like they were just kinda slapped on top of everything else once the record was already finished. I feel they could have been brought down and blended into the mix a bit more.
Yeah, Ben Hoffman sure is an interesting cat. He'll tell you he'd been kicking around Nashville, getting the mud kicked in his eye and black-balled by music row for years, when actually, he's a comedian. He created "The Ben Show" which ran on Comedy Central for only one season before getting canned, his country crooning alter-ego Wheeler Walker Jr. made an appearance on the show and later went on to call his host, Ben a few choice names.
It took me a couple listens to "The Joe Rogan Experience" podcast to catch the joke. Ben Hoffman grew a beard and put on a cowboy hat. As a character, Wheeler can say and do whatever in the hell he wants, even the things that normal old Ben Hoffman can't.
Is there going to be another one after Wheeler gets off tour? In his words talking with Joe Rogan: "Oh fuck yeah!" We can only hope.