Wrong Side Of The River, the debut album by self-dubbed “shantygrass outfit” Pay The Devil, was three years in the making. Fortunately, the band’s union of Appalachian folk, outlaw country, bluegrass and roots influences will always have an audience. In an effort to preserve the band’s raucous, refreshingly unpolished sound, Kent Herberling captured the introductory album’s 16 songs in a series of live recordings, usually requiring just one take. What emerged was a timeless collection of endearingly coarse, whiskey-soaked, and singalongable tunes that have as much a place in Midwestern music today as they would’ve 100 years ago.
Fast-picking banjo player and (predominant) singer Ivan Eisenberg’s guff vocals heap references to nautical life (“Mutinous”—the term Pay The Devil refers to sailing), boozing (“Drink Up All The Liquor”), smoking (“Smoke Em If You Got Em”), and general debauchery (“Wrong Side Of The River”) that, when combined with admirable musicianship by the rest of the band both vocally (the acapella chant “Sally Brown”) and instrumentally (best expressed in the downright rowdy “North Avenue Free For All”), translate into a 42-minute romp that’s a functionally folky nod to a bygone era of music and just rough enough around the edges to take Pay The Devil to new, absolutely enjoyable places. Before it’s released in full, listen to Wrong Side Of The River now, only at Milwaukee Record.
Pay The Devil will release Wrong Side Of The River on Friday, April 3 at Linneman’s Riverwest Inn, playing in support of Al Scorch, Joseph Huber, and The Grasping At Straws. The show begins at 9 p.m. and costs $5.