Over a handful of releases from the John Howie Jr.-led Two Dollar Pistols, a pattern has emerged. You’ll find, true to the band’s roots covering Roger Miller and Bobby Bare, various flavors of country that echo Bakersfield, old Nashville, even a hint of outlaw Austin. But you often also get a couple of songs that reach out to other styles. “Gettin’ Gone” from 2002′s You Ruined Everything set that tone with its perfect combination of western beat and Merseybeat.
This holds true for Here Tomorrow, Gone Today. There are, of course, pure twangers such as “Tortured Mind” and “Were You Pushed (Or Did You Fall)”, the latter’s “Were you pushed or did you fall (ever-so-slight pause) in love with him?” proving again that Howie knows his way around a true-country chorus and classic-country wordplay. “Stranger Things Have Happened” has Howie waltzing with the harmonies of Southern Culture On The Skids’ Mary Huff and the pedal steel of distinguished NC vet Clyde Mattocks.
But there’s also “I Don’t Know You, But I Don’t Like You” splitting the difference between the honky-tonk and the garage, as well as the country soul of “Anyone Else But Me”, sweetened by guest vocals from Tonya Lamm and Lynn Blakey of Tres Chicas. The hooky “She Lies All The Time” unleashes guitarist Scott McCall and his bag of licks, with a brilliant mid-song solo just the most obvious of his heroics. And the title track is quite possibly the best catchy rock song that you’ll hear all year. It just happens to fall in the middle of a record filed under country.
You’d be hard-pressed to find anything the least bit country on Love Is Dead, the latest release from central North Carolina’s longstanding Snatches Of Pink and its first for 8th House, a new label started by Howie and Snatches Of Pink’s Michael Rank. (Howie plays drums in Snatches of Pink, and Patty Hurst Shifter’s Marc E. Smith is also a member, so there are your alt-country connections if needed.)
As always, Rank wears his love for Creem magazine rock and ’70s Stones on his sleeve — or he would if he owned a shirt with sleeves. “From The Sun” might be the catchiest thing ever recorded by Snatches Of Pink; but the band has always been more about raw attitude than hooks. “I’m on the rocks,” belts Rank on the opener “Rocks”. It’s not a country-clever line, but it somehow sums up what he and Snatches Of Pink are all about.