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Askew Review 15

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DIVORCE- Naysayers and Yesmen/Laugh Now Cry Later (Street Anthem Records) Johnny Cash is responsible for this, at least a little bit.  And I’m not saying this just because Reno Divorce does a nice cover of Johnny’s “Guess Things Happen That Way” (though I wish they would’ve worked the original “ba-doop-badoo’s” into it somehow).  I say this because a good portion of this disc sounds a lot like Social Distortion, and particularly the aspects of Social Distortion (okay, Mike Ness) that joyfully and unabashedly trumpet the hard luck, loveable, free-spirited loser so often present in old J.R. Cash’s best songs. Case-in-point, “He’s a Fuck Up,” an instantly likeable, unapologetic look at the singer’s The Outsiders-like high school persona.  There are also some classic-themed tough bitch done me wrong songs here (“M.O.,” “Girls I Coulda Fucked,” and the manic, pounding, very fun “What Were You Saying?”).  And while Reno Divorce display these very obvious influences, they certainly can’t be classified as, say, Social Distortion, Jr. (and speaking of bands with “Jr.” in their name – and I can only think of one- was their ever a Dinosaur Sr.?).  While “All She Wants To Know” features their hardscrabble, everyman hero AND a sassy young thing who won’t take any shit from him, these guys still manage to make this song sound their own, and I love the somewhat unexpected tender final line. “Laugh Now Cry Later,” while also seemingly focused on a traditional theme, still comes off as very them. It’s a hopeful song about a juvenile delinquent who finds true love, grows up and has a good life, despite the earlier bullshit he was involved in. It’s probably obvious that I love Johnny Cash and Social D., and while I haven’t yet elevated Reno Divorce to this same lofty status, it’s impossible for me not to like these guys.  I think you will, too. –Ben Hunter



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