By Kat Bein
By Shea Serrano
By S. Pajot
By Terrence McCoy
By Falyn Freyman
By Shea Serrano
By Jacob Katel
By Michael E. Miller
He may be the offspring and namesake of a onetime country music icon, but calling Bobby Bare, Jr.’s music country is a severe misnomer. His latest band, the Young Criminals’ Starvation League, abandons all claims to country, Americana or otherwise, save a smattering of steel guitar and his own woeful delivery that even the most despondent cowboy would likely find unnerving.
Fact is, Bare, Jr.’s a bit off-kilter, a displaced, dislodged malcontent whose shredded voice skewers any hint of optimism or stability. From the End of Your Leash is entertaining in a train-wreck sort of way, and he gives the impression that he would rather take his traumas to the recording studio than a psychiatrist’s couch. Broken hearts and cheating women may be a staple of country crooners, but Bare, Jr.’s laments verge on the psychotic. “Hey brother, can I borrow your girlfriend,” he pleads on “Borrow Your Girl.” “Mine busted up my cheating heart in a collision last night.”
The music affirms his maniacal muse. The desperate “Let’s Rock & Roll” sounds like a weak attempt to rally from a hangover after a particularly rowdy Saturday night. “Strange Bird” suggests a nightmare run amuck, an ominous thump that slowly disintegrates into a howl of distorted violins. Even the album’s most inviting pop song, “Your Adorable Beast,” sounds subversive, its cheesy trumpets adding a mix of irony and insanity.
“Don’t follow me, I’m lost,” Bare, Jr. declares, fraught with resignation. Listeners are warned. — Lee Zimmerman