Dean, Gene Are Just Having Fun: Rock Singers Put a Different Spin on Country Music
VanHorn, Theresa, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
Have you ever heard the joke about what happens when you play a country song backward? (Please bear along here, country music fans.) You know: The dog comes back, the spouse comes back, and the singer goes to Alcoholics Anonymous.
Dean and Gene Ween of the electric rock band Ween seem to be playing a similar version of this genre-busting image over and over again on their latest release, "12 Golden Country Greats," as they toy around with stereotypical country-music themes in addition to heavy vocal drawls and sonic twangs. But don't take these guys too seriously.
Looking thoroughly kicked back and chilled out as they sink into backstage couches, Dean and Gene initially take a relaxed approach - consistent with the slackeresque attitude evident in their songs - to a pre-show interview at the Fillmore in San Francisco.
The mood changes, however, when they're asked what's behind some of the album's lyrics: "Here-we-go-again" looks come onto both faces.
"It's hard for people to deal with humor in music; there's just no room for it," Dean says defensively.
"We didn't do this album to knock or mock country music," Gene adds. "We aren't trying to genre-hop, either; we just made a country album this time."
While a song such as the sarcastically sentimental ballad "Fluffy" (a tribute to a dog) may seem like a smart-alecky parody, both Dean and Gene contend it's actually just funny-old, well-meaning Ween.
"It's just us. It's just our songs," Dean says. "We wouldn't have gone down to Nashville to work with musicians who've played with Elvis Presley, Willie Nelson, Roy Orbison and Jerry Reed if we just wanted to make fun of country music."
With their six-man backup band, Dean and Gene Ween will end their tour at the 9:30 Club (202/393-0930) on Monday.
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Unlike the Ween brothers' pilgrimage to country music's mecca, Los Straightjackets weren't making much of a venture when they went to Nashville to record their latest release, "Viva Los Straightjackets"; for them, it was a matter of coming home from touring.
Though the foursome coincidentally used the same producer as did Ween - the respected Ben Vaughn - comparisons between the bands don't extend beyond their being equally rare kinds with well-produced albums. Los Straightjackets' instrumental, retro-surf rock is constructed into one groovy mix for the band's second release. …