Mike D.'s I Can Lick Any
Sonofabitch In The House may have the best band name
in modern rock, but that wouldn't mean much if they
didn't have the music to back it up. But they do.
This is ferocious alt-blues standing proud and tall,
coming across like a more elaborate, less hipster-oriented
White Stripes playing AC/DC songs. I Can Lick Any
Sonofabitch In The House serve their hard rocking
cowpunk with passion and wits, all the while fiercely
avoiding stupid masculine posturing.
The fact that celeb gunslinger
Charlton Heston is referred to as a ''cold-blooded,
old-blooded, sick ass man" and a "rifle
totin' whore" is more than enough to endear the
band to me. But more important is the music. "Twerp"
offers some of the best cowpunk this side of the Hangmen
(whose long overdue sophomore studio album is due
early next year), "Hayward, CA '76" ends
with a shimmering, aggressively sludgy jam and "American
Fuck Machine" totes some amazing hard rock riffage.
Both snob-hipster rockers
and trailer park misogynists are given one solid middle
finger by a band delightfully avoiding musical and
ethical compromise. Put Here To Bleed could prove
to be one of this year's finest albums, and I Can
Lick Any Sonofabitch In The House to be one of the
most self-respecting, entertaining and smartest bands
out there today, seemingly unable to do anything wrong.
Toby Keith might sing about the Angry American, but
he's got nothing on Portland, Oregon's Mike D. As
the singer/chief songwriter/visionary for the band
I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch in the House (what a name
for a band), he's not afraid of hiding his rage, and
he doesn't let up for a second. He hates rock stars,
the National Rifle Association, and most of all, he
despises President George W. Bush and his cadre of
cronies. A former member of the US Army's 101st Airborne
Air Assault division, Mike D. says, "I would
gladly give my life for a righteous cause. However,
making Dick Cheney and Halliburton richer doesn't
make me feel any freer or safer . . . It's time to
be heroes and not fucking bullies." His band's
music channels that rage into some absolutely ferocious,
country-fried Southern rock, and their latest album,
Put Here to Bleed is one of the angriest albums we've
ever come across in the past couple of years.
Sounding like the Drive-By
Truckers' Patterson Hood with a really bad throat
infection, and coming across as stubbornly liberal
as Steve Earle, Mike D. rasps his way through eleven
songs, ably supported by his ace four-piece band,
who deliver a pummeling blend of country, hard rock,
and barroom blues. And man, is this dude pissed. When
a guy writes a song entitled "American Fuck Machine",
you know you're in for an interesting ride. On that
track, with its '70s hard rock riffs and swampy harp
playing by David Lipkind, Mike D. tears at the United
States government, snarling, "Lies are getting
told over and over again / I'll just pray to the white
god on my TV / And I won't say a word or think for
myself / Hell gets rationed out to unclean things
like me". "Twerp" is aimed solely at
Bush and what his arch-conservatism is doing to the
world, as Mike D. snidely says, "I plan to spend
the apocalypse drunk and passed out on the floor".
On the vicious "Things That Fail", he takes
aim at "Old bastards with a pro-war attitude
and them same old bastards on Viagra", while
the anti-war ballad "La" takes on more of
a rough-edged, hymnal tone, while still choosing not
to mince words one bit.
The real keeper is the
tune "Dear Mr. Heston", a scathing attack
on the NRA. You'd think it's just another left-wing
anti-gun rant, but as it happens, Mike D.'s younger
brother was killed by another brother who was playing
around with a parent's gun at home, and when you listen
to the song, it becomes a powerful indictment of American
gun culture, easily one of the most emotionally charged
songs of the year: "Josh said I know where mama
keeps the gun / She won't even know that it's gone
/ I took a class and I got my license / Now my little
brother will never know the love of a girl / And he'll
never drink a cold one / And he'll never see another
sunrise / And he'll never damn sure damn sure fire
that gun / Dear Mr. Heston / If you ever saw a 12-year-old
boy's brains splattered on a kitchen wall / Well you'd
hang your head in shame / You rifle totin' whore /
Cold blooded old blooded sick ass man".
Some comic relief comes
in the form of "The Ballad of Courtney Taylor",
a very funny attack on Mr. Dandy Warhol himself, as
Mike D. not only lays into his fellow Portlander,
but also all shallow rock stars everywhere, as he
growls sarcastically, "What's that shit some
salami on my deli tray? / I'm gonna leak it to the
Willamette Week that I'm bisexual or gay / Cause I'm
a rockstar". Drawing on his experience behind
the scenes in the business, his lyrics are razor-sharp;
as he admits in the band's press release, "You
can really see into someone's soul by what's on his/her
If the music on Put Here
to Bleed has a fault, it's that Mike D.'s voice lacks
any discernable range whatsoever, and the fact that
his ragged voice can barely carry a melody makes the
album wear thin the further it goes on, but thanks
to his excellent lyrics and his band's superb performance,
this is still an album that's definitely worth hearing.
Listening to it, you're struck with the realization
that I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch in the House seem
to love their country more than the people who govern
it lead us all to believe. No matter how out of tune
it might sound, Mike D.'s is a voice that you don't
want to be silenced anytime soon.
Put Here to Bleed
is another back-to-basics rock album in a few-years-wide
window of back-to-basics rock albums, but no one told
I Can Lick Any Son of a Bitch in the House's lead
tumbler Mike Damron that some basics are less fashionable
than others. Of course, I can hear Damron's "think
I give a fuck?"-style grunt right now. So there
you have it.
Basically, Damron likes Southern rock
and political heat, even though he's more Neil Young-left
than Lynyrd Skynrd-right; he likes bluegrass, mud,
Johnny Cash, Social Distortion, buck-toothed guitar
wails, blues and solid, warm production. He's assembled
a top-notch band with Portland, Oregon regulars Flapjack
TX on drums, Mole Harris on bass, "Handsome"
Jon Burbank on guitar and, most notably, David Lipkind
on harmonica -- not a skinny kid with a penchant for
blowing, but a real master of the instrument whose
powerful, almost abrasive style adds gasoline to the
fire on tracks like "Twerp" and "American
Damron's whiskey-and-smoke-fed voice consistently
fits his mood -- backwards-looking, devastatingly
cynical, but staunchly independent and alive and kicking
at the same time -- and the music follows suit, always
in step but never lacking variety. "American
Fuck Machine" takes a vicious stab at plastic
culture without sounding preachy, and the punk-blues
riffing from Burbank, combined with sharp-as-tacks
blowing from Lipkind, adds salt to its inflicted wound.
In "In the Mud" and "Hayward, Ca '76",
Damron gets relatively sentimental about times, fathers
and grandfathers past; the first breaks out the fiddle
and the banjo to celebrate the happy memories, and
the second mourns their loss with a drunken blues
stomp reminiscent of Jack White's early work. "Dear
Mr. Heston" and "The Ballad of Courtney
Taylor", besides naming names, work themselves
into a steaming fury over issues other hip priests
won't touch; the first romps along to a spitting NRA
indictment while the second attacks celebrity cred
in a letter addressed to the Dandy Warhols' Courtney
Taylor. But maybe "Things That Fail" expresses
Damron's worldview best: after a list of semi-spoken
failing things and a hopeful conclusion that "love
is the key", all set to distilled blues riffing
and minimal drumming, Damron lets out in a blood-curdling
wail -- "love it failed!"
Maybe love failed, but at least rock
music hasn't. By taking up an unhip cross (Led Zeppelin,
Thin Lizzy, Social D., bluegrass), Mike Damron and
I Can Lick Any Son of a Bitch in the House are reviving
the spirit that has always been there, but has lately
been ignored. The results are at once refreshing and
-- Matt Pierce
From the get go this disc
jams out. Heavy on that classic blues and rock sound
with scruffy vocals and a harmonica addition that
balances the rawness with ease. This album is fierce
and crisp all the way through and is an excellent
attempt at taking rock back to the forefront of popular
music. Lyrics lean towards the tragic in "Dear
Mr. Heston" about vocalist Mike D's brother shooting
his other brother and then the government on "The
Ballad Of Courtney Taylor" and "American
Fuck Machine" which are about the corruption
and inequality from those in power. The tight sound
wound between these guys fit in with late night drinking
bashes. "Gone As They Go," "Sixsixfive"
and "La" all show off lyrical diversity
and take certain risks not taken by many groups out
there right now. (JC)
Imagine the big guitar
whoop-ass of Lynyrd Skynyrd or Thin Lizzy mixed with
some of the most incendiary, anti-establishment lyrics
since Phil Ochs, and you'll begin to get some idea
of where I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch In The House are
coming from. This Portland band's sophomore effort,
Put Here To Bleed, is an angry spit-in-the-face
at hypocrisy and illegitimate power, and unlike a
lot of what passes for "punk" these days,
ICLASITH's blue-collar discontent is not made up.
Their shit is for real! "Dear Mr. Heston,"
a harrowing tale by band leader Mike D of how one
of his brothers shot the other, opens, "If you
ever saw a 12-year-old boy's brains splattered on
a kitchen wall, well, you'd hang your head in shame
you rifle totin' whore, cold-blooded, old-blooded,
sick-ass man." And when ICLASITH takes on the
government, which they refer to as the "American
Fuck Machine," stand back. "I love America,"
Mike D proudly states. "I was with the 101st
Airborne/Air Assault. I would gladly give my life
for a righteous cause. However, making Dick Cheney
and Halliburton richer doesn't make me feel any freer
or safer! We are the greatest nation on earth. This
is what I tell the rednecks that tell me to 'love
it or leave it.' It's time to be heroes and not fucking
bullies. I hate fucking bullies." Wellsaid. Put
Here To Bleed is, without a doubt, one of those
records that has renewed my faith in rock.
8.2 out of 10.
There are those who do alt.country
(Jayhawks) and dirty blues (Bob Log III) better, but
few can mix the two seamlessly with redneck, populist
politics as well as Mike D., front man for Portland,
Ore.’s I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch In the House.
The band’s second offering, Put Here to Bleed,
crudely recorded on a home set-up, nevertheless yields
a pristine-sounding mix, juxtaposed against muddy
guitars, lunch-box aluminum harp and Joe Cocker-as-testosteroned-Dixie
Chick-on-speed vocals. “I’m an American
Fuck Machine,” Mike D. (no relation to the Beastie
Boy of the same moniker) growls on the disc’s
second track, a grungy shuffle that, unfortunately,
segues into a poorly advised ballad full of sickeningly
bovine la-la-las. Put Here’s dirty, low-down
appeal grows like kudzu over the rest of the song
cycle, mostly hitting (“Gone As They Go”)
and sometimes missing (the aforementioned “La”).
Hinterlands poetry not trying too hard “To Be
Good” (a ballad highlight), and that’s
as it should be. --Will K. Shilling
rock thugs in I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch in the House
put one of last year's most unexpected pleasures out
last year with the debut album Creepy Little Noises,
and now they're back with Put Here to Bleed. Head
SOB Mike D. (who did time with that notorious combo
the 101st Airborne before his stint as a rock &
roll miscreant) unleashes another strong set of songs
from his working class psyche, full of spit and bile—indeed,
he's even angrier than before. "Dear Mr. Heston"
takes the NRA head to task with righteous fury ("If
you ever saw a 12-year-old boy's brains splattered
on a kitchen wall/Well you'd hang your head in shame")
and little subtlety ("You rifle totin' whore");
other targets of his disgust include popular alternative
rockers ("The Ballad of Courtney Taylor,"
a less-than-flattering look at the Dandy Warhols bandleader),
blind patriotism ("American Fuck Machine"),
an apparently personal vendetta ("Twerp")
and, well, pretty much everything about the American
system ("Things That Fail"). He also finds
the wherewithal to roll his characters around in the
mire of self-loathing in "Hayward, CA '76,"
"Sixsixfive" and "La," all of
which are unnervingly affecting despite a complete
lack of sentimentality. "Gone As They Go"
and "To Be Good," while hardly uplifting,
interject a surprising tenderness into the broiling
anger, just enough the keep D. from seeming like a
sourpuss. The band backs up his plainspoken treatises
with tough, no-nonsense rock & roll that maximizes
his rootsy melodies while slathering them with enough
gravel to ruin an undercarriage. Speaking of gravel,
D. seems to prefer it to mouthwash; his shredded throat
gives each line an authenticity that prettier singers
would kill for. This is one songwriter who sings what
he means and means what he sings, and this is a band
as long on honesty as it is on talent. Put Here
to Bleed was put here to wail. -- Michael
Breaking open a fecal
pinata stuffed with a multitude of odorous musical
genres of today may unleash many styles that appeal
to many people. But whatever the flavor, it's really
only a different hue of the same shit. So much music
today is contrived and thought up by vacuous A&R
reps for the express purpose of dazzling the consumer
with eye candy in order to shift units and swell balance
sheets. The fatal flaw is always in the music itself,
which becomes an afterthought that survives only in
its current climate with no reverence for the music
of the past and no room for expansion into the future.
So what makes Put Here to Bleed refreshing
is the grafting of rustic folk and blues flavors onto
a core of punkish angst that manages to elude becoming
mired in cliches.
Leadoff track "Twerp"
starts quietly, kicking into a raw blues romp with
wailing harp, dominating drums and frontman Mike D's
scratchy howling. "Dear Mr. Heston" is as
angry as you might guess from the title, with a quick
two-step beat and accusatory lyrics railing against
gun nuts and, funny enough, reminds me of John Mellencamp.
The flair for politically charged lyrical commentary
is a thread that runs through Bleed, providing
a lineage back to the likes of Woody Guthrie and Bob
Dylan. The abrasive "American Fuck Machine"
revolves around a gutbucket roadhouse riff, staccato
vocal breaks and machine-gun drumming to deliver its
spite for the ideal Republican America, complete with
perfect tits, religious predominance and blind patriotism.
Scathingly character-assailing, though very simple,
is "The Ballad of Courtney Taylor," which
takes aim at the dramatic frontman for fellow Portland
natives the Dandy Warhols.
With Put Here to
Bleed, I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch in the House has
honed a sound that contrasts with most everything
out there. A heady mix of punk, blues, folk and sharp
witticisms, the songs deliver a strong punch for a
band on its way up.
Flying one of the
best band names ever, I Can Lick Any SOB has established
itself as not only one of the best live acts for your
money, but also as the underdog in the Portland music
Fronted by Mike Damron,
'SOB plays growling alt-country rock and roll. Its
dirty. Its lo-fi. And its ass kicking. The drums groove,
the guitars rage and the harmonica (which normally
I would veto) makes the song in many cases. Thank
David Lipkind who throws down the harp with 'SOB and
other Portland acts like Nann Alleman's Spigot.
This is SOB's second
album, and lyrically takes on many hot political topics.
Dear Mr. Heston tackles gun control. The
song's lyrics pack emotional punch along side the
friskiness of the music. Hot stuff currently, especially
with the attention Michael Moore's Bowling For
Columbine documentary has been receiving. This
song is the musical equivalent.
The Ballad of
Courtney Taylor is a low down gruff rocker which
takes a shot or two at The Dandy Warhal's Courtney
Taylor. Some much needed shots at that. The Worhals
came up out of the local music scene and since signing
to a major label, have been, well, rock stars. A great
song for its trashy breaks. I can't imagine many women
not shaking their asses to this.
On Things That
Fail, Mike D calls out a plentitude of things
wrong in the US today. Despite pointing out the grievances,
he ends with "Its all in the words we sing. Love
is the key," That's a nice touch.
I love the album
cover art. It's a continuation of the art featured
on the back of Creepy Little Noises, 'SOB's
first release. This time the "boxer" is
going to lick the grinning specter of death who is
wielding stars and stripes boxing gloves. Punch em
with 'SOB, should pick up a copy of Here to Bleed
to jam along side your Horton Heat and Hank Williams
III. And make sure to play it loud. They didn't make
this disc to fall asleep to. And anyone familiar with
them should already own this disc.
OK Ladies. Hit the
colonialists spoke patronizingly of the Noble Savage.
Today we have the Enlightened Redneck: Mike Damron,
singer/ guitarist of the Oregon quintet I Can Lick
Any Sonofabitch in the House. Scrapping the sad-sack
sensitivity of the Gram Parsons/Townes Van Zandt school
of country-rock, Damron and his boys rip out a bluesier,
ballsier brand of wistful jangle and rustic twang.
But don't let the alt country tag send you packing:
Put Here to Bleed leaks buckets of smarts,
distortion and pure punk soul. In the album's anti-gun
hootenanny "Dear Mr. Heston," the morally
senile NRA president is informed: "If you ever
saw a twelve-year-old boy's brains/Splattered on a
kitchen wall/Well you'd hang your head in shame/You
rifle totin' whore/Cold-blooded, old-blooded, sick-ass
man." The burly, bearded Damron comes across
like Michael Moore fronting Lynyrd Skynyrd. And not
unlike Moore, Damron is no ivory-tower liberal; he
speaks of firsthand pain in first-person terms, a
thinking man trapped in a body -- not to mention a
whole culture -- of testosterone-pumped machismo.
With plainspoken grace and a Texas drawl, he tenderly
growls his way through lines like "I hate everything/Kings
and being poor/Guns and burnin' crosses and evils
knockin' at my door" and "I hope we're angels/Not
just put on earth to bleed, not just a cancer/Not
just disease, not just anger."
The music is tucked
somewhere between Steve Earle and the Afghan Whigs,
peppered with stubbly riffs and bleak, black heartbreak.
In fact, "Things That Fail" steals the distinct
drumbeat from the intro of the Whigs' anthem "Gentlemen,"
and the disc's opening cut "Twerp" could
have been a hidden track at the end of Earle's Transcendental
Blues. Other songs, like "American Fuck Machine"
and "Sixsixfive," are meaty slabs of outrage
and open-chord bashing, while "To be Good"
is the album's mournful, gut-chilling ballad.
today is made by hipster dilettantes and fake-hick
opportunists, but I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch in the
House sticks out like a rusty nail, pricking egos
and deflating pretension. And, in Damron, the whole
genre has acquired a new songwriter of conscience,
intelligence and brusque -- even savage -- honesty.
Mike Damron's bluesy/country
outfit is back for another fight. I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch
In The House is like a ballroom brawl that never ends.
It seems like only a couple of months ago that I was
reviewing their debut, Creepy Little Noises. Now with
their sophomore album out on In Music We Trust again,
Damron has honed this style of raucous rock to his
own art-form. Mike states that his influences range
from Steve Earle to Lynyrd Skynyrd to Thin Lizzy.
This all adds up to an energetic set of music and
that's what Sonofabitch delivers on his new album.
He takes a political approach on some of the songs
like "Dear Mr. Heston", an anti-gun song.
It really is Mike's voice that makes his band stand
out from others. His vocals are twangier than Merle
Haggard's and rougher than Joe Cocker's. At times,
Sonofabitch is totally rocking like Jackyl and other
times Mike has his foot totally in the country sound.
It's a refreshing album that isn't all that unique
but there is so much heart in Damron's music that
it more than makes up for it.
Sounding something like
a Southern refried sloppy combination dinner containing
slices of Alice Cooper, The Replacements, and The
Pogues...this band is a barroom lover's delight. The
band is led by singer Mike D., a man who can out-rasp
even the raspiest of singers. His drunken sing/growl
is the main focal point of this band's music...although
the songs themselves are impressively strong. Though
the band is based on Portland...they sound more like
a band from Georgia or Alabama. The band's no-frills
rock music is stripped down, honest, and goes down
easy. This album took a couple of spins to sink in.
These guys don't sound anything like other bands on
the In Music We Trust label (!). Good downhome rockin'
music. Top picks: "Twerp," "American
F*ck Machine," "Things That Fall,"
"Sixsixfive." (Rating: 4+++)
With the roar of an overdriven Gibson
and crackle of harmonica, I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch
In the House kicks off their next bombastic song.
Which song? It doesn’t really matter. They all
sound just about the damn same. But that’s missing
the point of this group entirely.
ICLASITH (the name comes from the biography of early
20th century boxer John L Sullivan) present us with
a presciently spot-on look at problems like gun control,
US warmongering, and out-of-touch bloated rock stars
that is just right for the times we’re in. The
unusual thing about it is that ICLASITH is pure heavy
70’s blues-rock, a combination of Paw and Jon
Spencer, that would seem to be the least likely sounding
group with these sorts of convictions. Main man singer/songwriter
Mike Damron leads the show with an attitude, having
seen things firsthand with the 101st Airborne Division
and witnessing the accidental shooting of a brother
in his home.
Obviously the album
possesses an interesting contradiction, combining
progressive sociological views coupled with its retro
70’s southern rock and swagger. This is odd
enough for a band with the name and sound therein.
Even more unusual, the brilliantly named ‘American
Fuck Machine’ has a go at the US government,
‘Dear Mr. Heston’ rails on everyone’s
favorite former actor and current NRA nutjob..all
of this from a guy who was once a member of the US
armed forces. Not to put too fine a point on it, but
this is an unusual record.
Even though the album
doesn’t vary as much musically as it does lyrically,
Put Here To Bleed is sort of a one-trick pony, but
with a pretty substantial trick.
Redneck yet reflective, Southern rockers
Southern rock: A phrase that brings
to mind the bourbon-soaked specter of Lynyrd Skynyrd,
the mutton-chop mayhem of the Kentucky Headhunters,
even the hayseed parodies of latter-day inheritors
like the Drive-by Truckers and Southern Culture on
the Skids. Historically, it's been a "love-it-or-leave-it"
genre, inspiring intense loyalty and furiously righteous
criticism in equal measure.
Out of the kudzu and into the fray
leaps Mike Damron, frontman and spiritual leader of
Portland band I Can Lick Any S.O.B. in the House.
(The unwieldy moniker is drawn from the title of heavyweight
boxer John L. Sullivan's biography). On the sophomore
CD release, "Put Here to Bleed," Damron
and company explore little musical terrain that wasn't
already visited in the debut. But much like Skynyrd
before them, this band knows what their people are
thirsting for and serve it up time and again in ragged,
That said, it would be a mistake
to simply label these guys Stars-and-Bars-flag-waving
bumpkins. Sure, the album brims with the sort of chord
changes and buzz-saw anthems only a Southern-fried
fanatic could love -- "Twerp" and "Things
That Fail" being the two examples printable in
a family newspaper. But it's also marked by songcraft
that mirrors John Cougar Mellencamp's prairie populism
at its most compelling.
"Dear Mr. Heston" is
the tale of a man who, having lost his 12-year-old
brother to a self-inflicted gunshot wound, angrily
rails at the NRA president in futile grief, while
"Gone as They Go" is the ballad of a guy
whose wife and kids have left him, but with a twist:
He's chillingly decided that if he can't have them,
neither can anyone else, and writes her parents to
tell of their fate. The irony kicks in full-throttle
on "The Ballad of Courtney Taylor," a needle-sharp
attack on rock's inherent ridiculousness as seen through
the prism of the Dandy Warhols' outrageous frontman.
The goods are delivered in Damron's
rasping twang, a character he never departs that blends
"Let It Bleed"-era Mick Jagger with AC/DC's
Bon Scott and Skynyrd's Ronnie Van Zant in an unholy
trinity of reverence and cynicism.
Southern sonic origins aside, "Put
Here to Bleed" may well be one of the most anti-Bush
administration statements heard this year, which alone
makes it worth hearing during a year marked by armed
conflict, political wrangling and grassroots protest.
If Americana or Roots
rock ruled the world, this band would be the authority.
Appropriately named, "I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch
in the House," while being one of the longer entries
in the Webster dictionary, can conveniently be found
between to the words "ache" and "nasty." With the
"I'm not taking no crap from anyone" vibe, dressed
in tattered cowboy boots and with a box of cigs
within reach at all times, this band won't leave
you wanting for aural stimulus. They have got the
balls of all out hard rock and punk, the twangy
gun-tootin' grit of Country and the spankin' delivery
of the blues. Any way you see it, this album (Put
Here to Bleed) is one to covet.