Fronted by singer/guitarists Rich Kaufmann and Kevin Karg, the Rolling Hayseeds became a major presence on the Philly music scene beginning in 1990. After some touring in support of 1996′s Tangled Up In You, however, the band went on a hiatus from live shows that stretched until late last year.
Although rooted in country-rock and honky-tonk, the Hayseeds are not above sneaking hefty doses of ’70s radio rock (the “twin” leads on “It’s Starting To Show”), folkie ballads (“If I Were More Like You”), neo-Everlys (“Guess Who’s Lying?”) and Southern rock (the soaring, dueling lead guitars on Waylon Jennings’ “Just To Satisfy You”).
The posture is never quite as tongue-in-cheek as, say, the Austin Lounge Lizards, but they don’t exactly take themselves seriously, either. Much like the Skeletons’ Lou Whitney, Kaufmann is an unrepentant cutup (as in, “Perhaps you’d like to tell the rest of the class just what’s so funny, Mr. Kaufmann…”). His calypso-country “When It’s Time To Stop” is certifiably unhinged; marimba, accordion and trumpet and an eerie mezzo-soprano backing vocal combine to provide a slippery mattress for a host of tired saws a la “It’s only funny till someone gets hurt…”
Karg’s humor isn’t as over-the-top, yet it’d be tough to work up real tears for his catchy, hard-luck laments (“Wide Awake”, “Woolly Thinking” and “Fat Chance”). The showpiece of No Place Like Home, though, is the extraordinary opener, “It’s Starting To Show”. With the aid of ex-A’s honcho Rocco Notte (on organ, Moog and chicken-skin harmonica), the Rolling Hayseeds build a lush, countrified power-pop anthem that would have been a jewel for Jules Shear’s late, lamented Polar Bears.
Uh, did I mention that these guys are kinda weird?