BLACK HATS, THE: Hometown Nobodies: CD

The undisputedly good news with Against Me! gaining popularity is that the gap between punk and roots country (without it morphing into some sort of assy tag like alt-country or adult contemporary country) is less of a leap. The undisputedly good news about The Black Hats is that they’re unpretentious, play rock-solid, from-the-country (this time, Wisconsin) music that’s both intelligently written and tastefully played. In an alternate universe, like the one of The Blues Brothers, a band like this could play Bob’s Country Bunker to ten-gallon hat wearers, amped-up truck drivers, and road-weary punkers. They could all join, arm in arm, while smashing empty beer bottles against the chicken wire in joy. That’s a world I’d like to live in. Since that probably won’t ever happen, I’ll just sit back and savor my two favorite tunes: the title track and “Picture,” that get me thinking that, with so very slight a tweak here and there, could both fit right into the Replacements catalog

 –todd (The Black Hats)