Buzz songs

Who the hell is Pat Green? And why do people think he’s so evil? Well, visualize the term “frat boy country rock”, and draw your own conclusions.

Jack Ingram was one of the youngest frat boy country rockers during the early 90s, attracting an audience his own age while he was a student at SMU.

But Ingram grew up, and his major label debut in 1997, Livin’ and Dyin’, kept one foot in his country rock present and another in his singer-songwriter future. It was, as they say in music critic parlance, mature.

The next five years was where I stopped paying attention.

Ingram switched labels, then got sucked into a whole “country renegade” marketing blitz which paired him up with the brothers Robison (Charlie and Bruce). The guy who did Hey You, Ingram’s 1999 album, didn’t sound like the guy who did Livin’ and Dyin’, and in the wake of it all, Pat Green happened.

So it’s no surprise Ingram would rise from it all with an album that suits its title.

Electric doesn’t merely describe the axegrinding wielded by the likes of Austin’s Jon Dee Graham and David Grissom. Ingram’s rough drawl sounds as charged as his songwriting.

Billed as a song cycle, Electric holds together incredibly well musically. Themed lyrics are pretty much icing on the proverbial cake — you don’t need to pay attention to the words to hear the songs speak for themselves.

Although the album’s opener, “Keep On’ Keeping On”, spells out what’s to follow, “What Makes You Say” is where it all comes together. A simple but majestic tune, “What Makes You Say” feels almost minimal even when it employs a larger than life arrangement.

(Odd to think of it, but the track almost sounds like “Polomerria” by female Japanese rocker Cocco.)

Although Ingram can honky tonk hard, he’s best when he’s delivering straight-forward rock. “Fool” starts off as a meditative ballad, then kicks out in the chrous. “One Thing” is pretty much a rock song with some slide guitars in the mix.

Co-producer Mike McCarthy, who also helmed … And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead’s excellent Source Codes and Tags, provides Ingram some sonic touches traditionally frowned on by Music Row.

The most daring track, “Pete, Jesus, And Me”, is almost like a sonic history of Guided By Voices — lo-fi at the start, huge and slick by the end.

Electric goes far beyond the expectations of a “frat boy country rock” label. Guess that means folks ought to come up with something else to describe him, and let Pat Green inherit that mantle.