Thursday, December 10, 2009

Joe Swank & The Zen Pirates ~ Hank Williams Died For My Sins

“Damn, this is one of the best alt-country albums I've heard in a while.
And the title track ...well ... it's my new anthem. Can't get it out of my head.”
Will Ingle-Gillis - Texas Exile Radio (Gwent, UK)

Joe Swank & the Zen Pirates are a good ol’ fashioned Honky-Tonk bar band. No un-necessary polish or glitz here, just straight forward country music with appropriate tempo adjustments for the modern age. It takes a special kind of person to enjoy Honky-Tonk music. To most new country (or “Hat country”) fans, Honky-Tonk is a little too uncivilized compared to the pitch-corrected, metronome-based “Country Music” that they’ve become accustomed to.

The new release HANK WILLIAMS DIED FOR MY SINS pushes country to all ends of the umbrella from the gospel-based title cuts to the cowpunk of Tomorrow’s Just a Train-Wreck Away, …from the Kristofferson-esque Same Ol’ Feelin' to the full-throttle boogie-rock of Just Tell Her I Loved Her, the constant theme is Hillbilly. Even the band’s straight-forward cover of Kiss’s Strutter smacks more of the streets of a small town than it does of the streets of NYC.

Joe Swank & The Zen Pirates performed at the clubs throughout North Carolina and outer-lying areas with such area greats as The Backsliders, The Two Dollar Pistols, Tres Chicas, Phil Lee & Kenny Roby (amongst many others) from 2002 to 2009. The band hit their collective stride at Rick Miller’s Kudzu Ranch Studios in the summer of 2008. HANK WILLIAMS DIED FOR MY SINS was released on 11/10/09.

This is the third album featuring Swank following the 1998 self-title debut with The MoJoDeans on Relay Records and the largely unreleased Cowpunk! from 2001 with The Mule Skinner Band (now available digitally), both based in Carbondale, Illinois.

Swank currently resides in Chicago, Illinois where he does radio promotion and tour press for Bloodshot Records. Previously was the head of radio promotions at Yep Roc Records in Haw River, North Carolina. Swank also has a collective 20+ years as on air talent in both commercial and non-commercial radio, has worked as an entertainment journalist for the Nightlife in Carbondale, Il, has written, produced & directed several one-act plays and did a six month stint as a stand-up comedian. A co-write with Swank and John Howie Jr. It’s All Fun And Games… appeared on the Two Dollar Pistols - HANDS UP! Release in 2004.

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