W.R. “Bud” Thornton, better known to Christmas haters and aficionados of French-fried pertaters as Billy Bob, always really wanted to be a musician. The story of the poor, starving rocker plucked from obscurity to sell himself in the cold climes of Hollywood is claimed by everyone from Johnny Depp to Keanu Reeves, and Joaquin Phoenix has recently attempted a sort of bizarro version with his rap career, but most of the musical output from this camp sounds suspiciously like it's coming from actors trying their best to play musicians.
The Boxmasters return with their third album, Modbilly. Drummer and frontman W.R. (“Bud”) Thornton may eschew his fame and notoriety, but his informal, famous name is how most of us are hearing of this band. The outfit’s name conjures the crude term for a man’s ego-inflated and exaggerated “successful” way with women.
It's hard not to see Modbilly as a do-over of the Boxmasters' 2008 debut. Like that eponymous record, 2009's Modbilly is a double-disc set comprised of one disc of originals and one disc of covers of classic '60s rock, pop, and country tunes. Like The Boxmasters, sonically it's hard to tell the differences between the originals and the covers, since every song has been given a trashy treatment equal parts garage, British Invasion, and country that the band has dubbed, well, "modbilly." As a cold description, this modbilly beat sounds pretty interesting, especially because the group goes to great pains to rearrange many of its covers, but as an album Modbilly drags, offering endless permutations of the same plodding boogie.
Mini music reviews Ciara Fantasy Ride, Ride spends a lot of time in the car-pool lane, with guests like Justin Timberlake (”Love Sex Magic”) and Ludacris (”High Price,” a slinky, if lyrically obnoxious, ode to acquisitiveness). Still, her solo turn on the morning-after ballad ”I Don’t Remember” hints at something deeper under the high-gloss sheen. B — Leah Greenblatt The BoxmastersModbillyBoxmaster Billy Bob Thornton’s recent radio meltdown begged to be heard over and over.