♫♪  BUCK - “Faces” / “Tuesday Night Lights”

In mid 2011, the Foo Fighters made a rather provocative, unorthodox parody of a music video for their then of-the-moment single, titled “Keep It Clean (Hot Buns).” The video, which casts the band as a group of white lower-class truck drivers, finds Grohl and co. sitting down before a steamy meal at a classic truck stop diner before diving into the communal showers, where the four soon engage in some pretty explicit homoerotic shower-play as the track lurches into an over-exaggerated country song, slurring the the gritty details of the group’s homoerotica in a slow country drawl. Conflating two seemingly opposite stock images of American life into a single, rather juvenile punchline, the band went on to parade their gay redneck parody before the Westboro Baptist Church, earning them coverage from sites like the Huffington Post, Washington Post, and others, who praised them for their parodic fight against homophobia before the worst offenders of them all.

As Nadine Hubbs notes in her book on the subject, Rednecks, Queers, and Country Music,

“When this parody was performed across from a homophobic group of white Christians from Topeka, metropolitan media professionals—members of what I call the narrating class—rendered it as triumph of Good, progressive, middle-class whites over Bad, bigoted, working-class whites. A familiar association was thus confirmed, between the provincial white working class and homophobia. Common knowledge holds that this group, often known as rednecks, has long been a prime source—if not the source—of America’s homophobia problem.”

While certainly affirming stereotypes of America’s white lower-classes, the song walks a strange line of both empowering queer minorities against the combative homophobia of the Westboro Baptist Church and demonizing the trope of the lower-class redneck, one already often painted as a slow-speaking, backwards sect of American life, forever tied to their downtrodden, native land. It’s something I’m not sure I’m entirely okay signing off on, but in the time since Grohl’s controversy, there’s been a new songwriter on the rise, one similarly embracing parodic country tropes to his own ingenious ends.

His name is Sam Buck Rosen and his songs sound like the sort of thing you’d hear on bro-country radio, complete with the booming Top 40 drum production, the excessive mid-range guitar twang, and the slow backwoods draw that have come to define the trend ubiquitously. It’s a sound that’s dominated country radio for years, one that’s “more Daughtry than George Strait,” with slick Nashville production and an almost cookie-cutter template built around late nights in oversized trucks, girl at your side in the moonlight. Only here, Buck waxes earnestly about “basics” and “resting bitch faces” in the bar, donning sports jerseys and drinking dandelion wine in the tender summer heat.

It’s no secret that parody has been something central to queer identity for generations, but Buck’s approach to modern bro-country feels earnest and anthemic — a reclamation of a style already rife with sexist clichés and reductive tropes increasingly parodied even by those in the genre. It’s not a subgenre that holds up to much scrutiny, but one that makes for some fun, campy party songs, especially present Buck’s mixing. Further parodying the overcompressed masters of radio-friendly pop-country, Buck’s tracks are overblown, mid-range pariahs that embrace the garish clichés so closely it’s uncanny. Like Lavender Country’s parodic reclamation of the American tradition, Buck offers earnest gay party songs that play with the campy strangeness of modern country, embracing traditions without ever taking themselves too seriously. Self-produced with vocals mixed by Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij, the musician premiered two tracks from an upcoming EP, “Faces” and “Tuesday Night Lights,” with The Fader last week — strange, shimmering, boot-knockin’ anthems for late nights in the pickup bed.

Chocolate Grinder

CHOCOLATE GRINDER is our audio/visual section, with an emphasis on the lesser heard and lesser known. We aim to dig deep, but we’ll post any song or video we find interesting, big or small.

Most Read