On their newest release, The Good Times Are Killing Me, The Twin City Playboys are taking their country roots in a more organic and deliberately classic direction. The straightforward early country sound of this album is lush in it’s decidedly sparse landscape as it transports you to the honky-tonks and roadhouses of way-back-when with the time-honored traditions of combining the distinct sounds of those backcountry guitars, the emotive fiddle, the undeniable charm of pedal and lap steel and piano
Ever since Kevin Anthony moved to Minneapolis from his hometown of Galveston, Texas, his upbringing along that rich musical history of the American gulf shores has been a huge influence. Since his relocation, he has managed to become a part of the Twin Cities areas own Country and Cajun scene, fueled and nurtured over the years by the Mississippi’s connection to the south. He has also started his own label, 409 Recordings, named for the Galveston area code. Still in its infancy with three releases under its belt, the first being The Twin City Playboys’ last release, Texas Memories, the second being the just-released local compilation Twin City Two Step: Cajun & Zydeco Music from Minneapolis/St. Paul Volume 1and now it’s third with The Good Times are Killing Me, this is a definite local label to watch.
Where their last album, Texas Memories, embraced their Cajun and Texas roots with its accordion flourishes and more upbeat tones, there are so many reasons this more traditional country route works for them just as well as the Cajun and Texas themes did on their previous effort. The vocals of Kevin Anthony are filled with warmth, while his singing remains his own sweetly unique tone, and compliments the band’s sound immensely.
The songwriting on this record is top-notch, with it’s combination of original songs and covers of tried and true standards like Merle Haggard’s “Tonight The Bottle Let Me Down.” and the Bob Wills classic “My Shoes Keep Walking Back to You” remind you just how steeped in the glory of genre greats they are, Anthony-penned “The Good Times Are Killing Me” , “I Miss You”, along with bass player Eric Paulson. Their songwriting skills really shine most notably on “Hey You (Don’t Look So Down)” shows a noticeable love and respect for that early 60’s style of country music that began truly defining and broadening the genre after World War II.
This is exactly what they were attempting to achieve with this well-executed, vintage sound. And while there are plenty of imitators out there, trying to play country music with not-so-subtle hints of irony, the Twin City Playboys have managed to create a genuine, true to form sound, that avoid sounding hokey and fabricated.
Anthony’s bandmates include Eric Paulson on stand up bass (bull fiddle), Al Epp on snare, Bill Quinn on lapsteel, dobro and pedal steel and often include regular live showings from Prairie Home Companion alum and fiddler Pop Wagner. A definite staple in a local scene that might be considered to some a niche, The Twin City Playboys are always sure to entertain with their dedicated, genre-crossing, forward-thinking music.