On one hand, Valentine’s Day is a day for love. On the other hand, it’s a day for heartache, unrequited longing, and wallowing in one’s misery. (A puzzling third hand helpfully points to the Wikipedia page of the holiday’s namesake, Saint Valentine.) The Blue Mooners, Milwaukee’s mysterious band of lonesome cowboys and posterior pun aficionados, are clearly in the grips of the “heartache” hand this Valentine’s Day. On the delightfully titled Deal The Hits, Spud Butler and friends kick back, crack open a case of deep-cut covers, and pay tribute to loves lost, loves missed, and loves never had.
Opening with a bar-time take on Lavender Country’s “I Can’t Shake The Stranger Out Of You,” Deal The Hits veers from old folk standards (“Goodnight, Irene”) and modern classics (Silver Jews’ “Inside The Golden Days Of Missing You”) to reworked folk standards (Buffy Sainte-Marie’s “She’ll Be Comin’ Round The Mountain”) and songs that involve the words “blue” or “moon” (almost all of them). With a lo-fi four-track sheen and a hard-luck vibe, it’s a slight departure from 2016’s wild-and-wooly Wildwood, but a fine addition to the Mooners’ catalog nonetheless. The cover art may feature broken hearts, but hey, it’s still a straight flush.