By Conor Hooley
Unentitled is nine tracks of confident, polished folk-rock music that is full of surprises and, above all, a very unique kind of hilarity. The band lampoons much of the Deliverance-esque tropes of hillbilly rock, and they do it extremely well.
The music, however, is reverent to the source material, adhering mostly to the norms of folk, with some country and bluegrass thrown in on occasion. It’s simple but not minimalistic – there aren’t many frills, but it’s not bare bones either. And hey, there’s plenty of banjo.
“Three Bloodhounds Two Shepherds One Fila Brasilero” and “The Unballad Ballad of the New Folksinger” comprise a powerful opening salvo, and immediately establish the album’s tone. “Three Bloodhounds…” is a cracking narrative based on, well, what the title says. The lyricism is extremely strong – equal parts visceral and humorous. There are far too many quotables to mention, but describing a dog attack as “a mouthful of canine wrapped around your ankle” deserves a special amount of praise.
“The Unballad Ballad” is a similarly affecting song, and will be especially so for male listeners. No spoilers here, but suffice it to say that when Slim wails that he’ll “give you everything, as well as two sutures,” he’s not talking about ears.
The disc loses steam in the middle, but picks up again at the end with the uplifting irony of “A Smashing Indictment of Character” and the balls-to-the-wall rock of “My Last Black Scarf.” All told, Unentitled is one big backwater jam, and has as much quality music as it does smartass charm. It’s folking great.