Smart, Socially Aware Americana from 2/3 Goat

Like every other style, country music is evolving. In the case of 2/3 Goat, this is a good thing. What they play is basically catchy rock with acoustic instrumentation and oldtime country flair: they call it metrobilly. Much of their new ep, Stream of Conscience addresses the destruction of rural areas caused by mountaintop mining. As Rev. Billy and scores of activists have documented, mining companies rain debris and toxic metals down on rural communities – including families who’ve been there for decades – in a mad race to extract every chunk of coal out of the earth. And while you’d think that those corporations would also make a nice profit from all the timber they have to cut in order to get into the ground, that’s not how they usually do it. Instead, they typically dispose of it as waste. Not exactly a recipe for sustainability.

And in the spirit of great socially aware performers from Phil Ochs to Johnny Cash, 2/3 Goat don’t preach: instead, they paint vivid pictures with their songs. The opening track, Band of Gold (an original, not the soul hit from the 70s) could be a kiss-off anthem, or it could be a slap upside the head of anyone who’s being disrespectful. Frontwoman Annalyse McCoy unleashes a potent, vitrolic, high lonesome wail: “You see this fire in my eyes, is it a fire you defy? That’s not my fault…I call a stone a stone, I don’t care how it’s thrown.” The album’s title track kicks off with a nice minor-key mandolin/violin intro and eventually builds to a gallop, a bitter chronicle of the collision between “two dying cultures” – the locals, and the one percenters who’re trying to enrich themselves there. “Your runoff is not fit for me to drain,” McCoy sings caustically. The next track, sung by guitarist Ryan Dunn, is essentially an acoustic grunge song.

The best track on the album is Green Paper Mountains, a quietly scorching indictment. As McCoy tells it, the clearcutter’s tombstone will be his only friend: “Nothing grows in these miles of weeds but green paper mountains.” The album’s last track, Lay It on the Line is a showcase for Ryan Guerra’s spiraling violin and Dunn’s agile dobro work. 2/3 Goat play the album release show for this one on Nov 20 at 9ish at Bowery Electric.