Music » Critics' Picks

Robbie Fulks

Friday, August 13; the Hi-Pointe

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Robbie Fulks isn't one to bite the hand that feeds him. He'll have the whole arm, thank you kindly. His early song "Roots Rock Weirdoes" pilloried the more-trad-than-thou scenesters who were at least buying his records; his major-label debut, Let's Kill Saturday Night, rocked as slick and loud as the Nashville product he berated in "Fuck This Town"; and his last album of new songs, the self-released Couples In Trouble, reached the withered romanticism and pop-punk-folk heights Elvis Costello used to scale. He can scramble the honky-tonk template as perversely as Porter Wagoner or Eddie Spaghetti, but his ambition defies his novelty jones and devours genres with a snarl and a goofy grin. His irony would be annoying if his talent weren't so irresistibly uncouth. And though he hasn't cut an album in three years, Fulks recently produced a nearly flawless tribute to Johnny Paycheck and shelved another to Michael Jackson (for, ahem, marketing reasons). Onstage he's a manic, carnivalesque entertainer, hopping off the apron to lap-dance Beatle Bob or covering Cher's "Believe" as if he were singing "The Grand Tour." He's still the biggest, and often the best, weirdo in roots rock.

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