The Swing States Road Show,
(independent, 2006)

A fair warning to Republicans, sensitive moderates and those who believe politics is something best not discussed in polite company: Housecleaning isn't polite. Anyone who expects liberals or democrats to be reasonable or fair-minded will be disappointed on that score. It's a direct call for major political change, in a negative vein. It's anti-Bush, anti-Republican, anti-Iraq war. It makes no attempt to reach across the aisles, to understand the other side or even to inspire debate. The Swing States Road Show is a group that knows where it's going, and they're going straight for the throat. This is political music on the attack, with no holds barred and no quarter given.

In other words, Housecleaning is vicious, cathartic fun. And it is, if you can avoid being offended, really genuinely funny. The majority of the album is given over to parodies of familiar songs, and they're written to flow perfectly with the more familiar verses. "Yellow Ribbon" deals with the new use of the traditional symbol, and moves beyond political commentary to serve as a song for anyone trapped behind a bumper-sticker warrior. "Using My Religion" gives REM's old tune some new and more comprehensible lyrics, courtesy of the latest culture wars. "Blues for Crawford," based on the Bob Wills hit "Blues for Dixie," is an almost sympathetic ode to the perils of press conferences. All are clever, catchy versions of the originals sure to become brand new earworms even for unwilling listeners.

The original compositions don't slack either. "Four More Years," directed more at the state of the country in general, is a jaunty number that offsets the cynicism of the album. "The Workingman's Friend" challenges the bizarre presentation of the child of senators and CIA leaders as a common man. "Psycho Cowboy" is an outraged critique of American foreign policy that comes dangerously close to being real rock 'n' roll. Lea Jones and Karyn Oliver deliver all the songs with much needed clarity and some serious emotion.

Housecleaning isn't the sort of album that wins hearts and minds. It's too confrontational, too direct and angry to serve as a debate. The Swing States Road Show is preaching to the choir, but as another election season gears up, they're likely to find it's a choir eager to sing along.

by Sarah Meador
31 March 2007

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