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The Famous

Light, Sweet Crude

Leading Brand Records

These tough-talking, tobacco-chewing country punks from the Bay Area deliver enough twang to get them misidentified with the Americana movement. But don't be fooled: these guys are totally whacked. The psychotic fury of the opening song, "Son of the Snake," is the nightmarish reality hiding behind the deceptively innocuous Western-themed album cover. While there is traditional roots music on this record, best exemplified by whiskey weepers "Overtime" and "Tear," The Famous ride the rails with a bottle of Jack Daniels and fistful of stinkweeds.

Vocalist Laurence Scott growls and roars like vintage Frank Black when The Pixies were dangerous. No matter which one of two interpretations you give "Get You Back," it doesn't change the fact that Scott sounds like a serial killer, which'll scare the hell out of any Wilco fans who mistakenly order this CD, believing it's all about Southern jangle and boyish harmonies.

No, not quite.

The energizing "Midway" has a boot-stomping surf riff that is made both ugly and hilarious with Scott's rough singing and hysterically twisted lyrics. "True Believer" boils with relentless energy and the warped "Son of the Snake" is one of the most memorable LP openers of the year -- simply because you don't expect it. Best debut album of the year? Believe it, pardner.

The Famous: www.thefamous.net