Pick Up the Hatchet
Equal parts small-town ennui and punk spasm, Ugly Stick began creating their spirited, twangy roots rock in Delaware, Ohio, in the late 1980s. Here, newly remastered and widely available for the first time, is the band's self-titled debut album and their sophomore effort Shaved. These songs tell not only the true stories of local holidays, brutal beatings, gossip-fueled court cases, jailhouse weddings, devastating tornadoes and truck-stop wrongdoings, they also veer into fantastic scenes of snake handlers, crossdressing hippie farms, and a lovesick recasting of the story of Salomé Hooky, raucous, and erratic, Ugly Stick's early recordings capture the complexity of late adolescence in rural Middle America. While the band rocks, rages and crawls on, it can be hard to separate the testimony from the tall tales, and impossible to figure what drives Ugly Stick - sheer youthful exuberance, oppressive self-doubt, or the isolating indifference of small-town life - to pick up the hatchet.