There are way more of them and they all sing. Jake Clifford
Full band, click to enlarge Jake Clifford

My earliest memory of country music is the two-sizes-too-small cap-sleeved T-shirt my aunt Roach used to wear that proudly stated "Conway Twitty Can Squeeze My Titty." It made her boobs look huge, bouncy, and amazing. I used to watch her sweep the kitchen of our summer cottage and dream of the day when I'd grow older and get my own big, bouncy boobies. Country music was BLARING at every turn on those summer cabin days—Conway, Willie, Waylon, Johnny, Merle, Patsy, and Loretta. I hated it all. I cringed at everything but that T-shirt. I begged my mom to play Duran Duran. It never happened. All the adults ever wanted to do was sit around the campfire, arm in arm, singing "Put Another Log on the Fire." Remember that song? The "Male Chauvinist National Anthem" covered by many and written by Shel Silverstein, author of Where the Sidewalk Ends? "Put another log on the fire/Cook me up some bacon and some beans/And go out to the car and change the tire/Wash my socks and sew my old blue jeans." I secretly loved the song but cursed them for always singing it.

Since then I (sort of) got my boobies, I've listened to thousands and thousands of country songs, and one day I suddenly realized (don't tell my mom!) that I love country—especially the gritty, outlaw breeds. I hum "Put Another Log on the Fire" whenever I see flames. Tom Waits references wood in his song "Poncho's Lament"—"So I'll throw another log onto the fire/Now I'll admit I'm a lousy liar."

Baby-faced Seattle nine-piece Country Lips cover the Waits classic on Touched, a five-song 10-inch record, and their first release. It's the only cover of the five songs, all of which are completely on the right track. Are they as full of energy and fire as the Lips' live sets, which have thus far mostly rocked rowdy house parties and dive bars? No. But are they solid cuts that will put these country bumpkins on the Seattle music map and beyond? HELL YES. Touched makes me think they'll be around for a long, long time. Those unpolished vocals singing songs about whiskey, angels, and guns—and backed by rowdy violin, mandolin, and a whole shitload of guitars—are something this one-horse town needs more of. I think they should make a T-shirt that says "Country Lips Can Squeeze My Nips"—but, hey, that's just me. recommended