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It’s hard to imagine how Liam Torres pitched the concept for Alien Country’s Like My Life Depends on It. But after listening through the finished product, it’s a bit easier to comprehend – this sci-fi country project isn’t as dangerous or out there as you’d think, and that’s something to be thankful for or disappointed in depending on your stance.
Make no mistake: this is a country rock album, with gritty sing-a-longs about mamas, good times, and blue-collar life. Most of the sci-fi overtones can be attributed to post-hoc studio trickery with reverb, delay, and psychedelic flanger twists on the mix at clever intervals. However, those spacey meanders never take the reins; they act as a left-of-field adjunct that somehow works (check in with a real country fan for confirmation) but is far from a true melding of these alien genres.
A remix of the album’s top track, ‘Remedy’, marks the end of the album and is a perfect example of this conundrum. Later in the track, a series of wacky, turbulent theremin pitches swoop across the speakers, all in the background of standard fare country rock. The lyrics don’t fill the gap by describing pickup trucks driving on a motorway on Mars, it is quite literally a theremin thrown in to a country mix, because, why not? It’s no exaggeration to compare the experience to playing Acid Mother’s Temple and a radio-ready country band simultaneously across the room at each other. Sound collage enthusiasts may be mildly entertained.
Isolating the blood and guts country rock on the album, there are numerous standout tracks including ‘So Called Friends’, ‘How It Could Have Been’, and particularly, ‘No One is Coming’, which captures that punkish energy of Hank Williams III. The instrumental in the middle of the album, ‘Mommy Dearest’, is also a little gem of its own; it’s a peak for the tight and technical violin playing found across the record.
Although there are genuine moments of delightful oddities and curiosities, Like My Life Depends On It is no maverick. The heart and soul of this album is still country rock through-and-through – no odd time signatures, weird scales or other-worldy synthesisers to transport the listener through a celestial cowboy groove. One doesn’t get the impression that Torres had any high-brow notion of boldly going where no country boy has ever gone before. It’s just a bit of fun and quite likely a one-off, but there are still excellent tunes underneath that anchor them in reality, making the experience worthwhile for more traditional fans.
No harm done, but for connoisseurs of obscure music, don’t get your hopes up.