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Don’t get me wrong: I like booze, guns, and girls as much as the next guy. Back in the day, my little brother and I knew there was nothing quite so glorious as getting all liquored up on a Sunday morning and sneaking into the basement with Dad’s .45 to play a pulse-quickening game of “dodge the ricochet.” As for girls, there weren’t any in our parents’ unfinished basement. Besides, we were too socially backward, not to mention drunk, to have done anything with ’em.

For me, though, things never really got real until the day we had to explain the bullet holes in the water heater.

Which gets to the heart of my problem with High as Hell, the newest release by Nashville Pussy. It’s long on drunken gunfire but short on the great truths that come out of waking up in broken glass.

But first, let’s get a couple of things straight: One, Nashville Pussy ain’t got diddly to do with Nashville, but plenty to do with pussy. (Not the tabby kind, either.) Two, Nashville Pussy should not—I repeat, should not—be confused with the Dixie Chicks. There’s a world of difference between white bread and white trash, and Nashville Pussy is definitely the latter.

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Doped-up degenerates with a serious fetish for firepower and more tattoos than the front row at a Motorhead show, Nashville Pussy serves up the 12 songs on High as Hell the old-fashioned way—in hard and fast bursts of sound that give a stinky middle finger to everything that God-fearing Americans hold sacred. In the face of “just say no,” it votes yes to sex, guns, drugs, more sex, bigger guns—and that’s just the first five songs. It’s a proud purveyor of the evil powers of rock ‘n’ roll, living proof that the devil’s music really is out to turn your children into homicidal dope fiends. (Which is funny, considering that the kid in my class who took too much acid and tried to burn his parents’ house down was hooked on Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd.)

Nobody could be this twisted and live—except Jerry Lee Lewis—which is exactly the trouble. The folks in Nashville Pussy have worked so hard to establish themselves as larger-than-life bad-asses that they come off looking like a one-dimensional white-trash cartoon—a great-looking cartoon, granted. (I hear they put on one hell of a live show, with lots of tits and fire and an Amazonian bass player who blows fire out her butt, or something.) And, as the Ramones proved, even cartoons can make indispensable music. But unlike its spiritual predecessor, Lynyrd Skynyrd—who struck a similar pose only to belie it with songs that were as subtle as they were powerful—Nashville Pussy seems content to fight for its right to party.

True southern outlaws made great music by revealing the whole world of hurt behind the “Live Fast, Die Young” pose. Nashville Pussy never does, and thus is unlikely to become anything more than a redneck KISS for the Black Cat set. Their songs of wretched excess exist in a world without hangovers, broken dreams, and gunshot water heaters, which is where your heroes drop their masks and make their final stand. Think Johnny Cash and “Sunday Morning Coming Down.”

That said, if you’re looking for music to punch holes in the walls to, you’ve come to the right place. Because most of these songs motor, even if they don’t get you too far. Singer-guitarist Blaine Cartwright growls away like a made-in-the-U.S.A. Lemmy Kilmeister while his wife, Ruyter Suys, spits out machine gun leads on guitar. Bassist Corey Parks, of fire-breathing fame, and drummer Jeremy Thompson make a big noise that’s three parts bad amphetamines and one part “South of the Border” brand hair grease.

“Shoot First, Run Like Hell” is a declaration of unabashed cowardice blatant enough to warm my own chicken heart, while “She’s Got the Drugs” is as good a reason for love as any I’ve heard. “Go to Hell” is Skynyrd’s “Saturday Night Special” rewritten by the NRA (not to mention a perfect example of adultery inflation, as the jilted boyfriend discovers his girl in bed with not one guy, but two). “Struttin’ Cock” and “Piece of Ass” (chorus: “A-S-S, A-S-S, baby!”) are companion pieces for folks who found ZZ Top’s “Tush” too subtle. “Wrong Side of the Gun” is George Thorogood’s “Bad to the Bone” with more guns but the same amount of outlaw cred (i.e., zilch). “High as Hell” is southern-fried Skynyrd boogie. “You Ain’t Right” has the dubious distinction, for a 2-minute song, of going on too long. “Rock and Roll Outlaw” brings to mind Bad Company, which— if you’re too young to remember them—is not a compliment. The best thing about “Blowjob From a Rattlesnake” is its title, which ain’t all that. Which leaves “Let’s Ride” and “Drive,” which are both about cars, with some guns, sex, and drugs thrown in to jazz up the scenery.

But, hey, if you like L7, the Supersuckers, and Motorhead, you’re bound to like Nashville Pussy. Of course, you’re probably also going to die young and go straight to hell. (Make sure to remind your buddies to slip some drugs into your coffin, so you can look forward to partying with Satan.) If, on the other hand, you’re a serious Belle & Sebastian fan, I’d recommend you avoid this CD. As for everybody in between, well, all I can say is it’s the perfect soundtrack for that long day’s journey into rehab. CP