Fans of River City Extension along with Fat Wreck Chords staples like NOFX and The Flatliners will gravitate towards the lyrical punk-driven and up-tempo bluegrass rhythm of Old Man Markley’s Down Side Up. Incorporating the banjo, fiddle, washboard, mandolin and autoharp with guitar, drums, bass and vocals, the seven-piece group produce a polished sound with plenty of variety.
Embracing life, love and liberty, Old Man Markley establishes their political stance on this record in classic, anti-establishment punk fashion. One of the more obvious examples on Down Side Up is “America’s Dreaming.” This is by far one of the strongest songs off of the entire album because of its thought-provoking lyrical content. “But fighting endless wars for greedy liars is getting pretty boring/They think they got us trained so we’ll think we’re living free/If we got time and money for junk food and tv.” Anyone who latches onto music driven by provocative messages will appreciate the unforgiving honesty of Down Side Up.
One of the key elements highlighted is the interchangeable use of male and female vocals. For instance, Annie DeTemple drives “Come Around Here” with empowering lyrics accompanied by some jazz elements. However, something I would have liked to see is some more diversity in the tempo on the disc. A slower song here or there might have given it an easier flow from the first track to the very last.
By far my personal favorite is the tongue-in-cheek “Beyond The Moon” that pays tribute to Mr. Gary Busey. “I don’t want to loose my mind like Gary Busey did/Once upon a time he was the same as you and me.” Down Side Up is witty, charming, and will get you up out of your seat and dancing.
In A Word: Awesome