The Decoys are a blue-collar crew of rockers whose left-of-center ditties provide plenty of lighthearted fun. Their debut disc, Meet the Decoys, tackles such diverse subjects as bats, chickens and what it means to be from Milton.
The quartet -- who've achieved semi-fame as the "straight" backing band for drag revue House of LeMay -- features guitarist/vocalist Bones Blankinship, bassist/vocalist Rob Root and drummer Marc Flemming. Studio whiz Andre Maquera helped the band get its loopy ideas onto disc.
The album opens with "Oxygen," which features a guitar riff cribbed from Alice Cooper's "No More Mr. Nice Guy." Blankinship's oddball vocals give the tune a demented quality that well suits the lyrics. "We get this oxygen from the sky / We got holes in the poles / We're starting to fry / Hey, there's a hat and sunglasses that I can buy," he sings. The chorus takes a sharp turn into glam-rock, with saucy backing vocals courtesy of Wendy Maquera. "How's your friend Oxygen? / There's nothing to borrow and nothing to lend," they all belt.
"SOS Milton U.S.A." boasts an intro strongly reminiscent of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Born on a Bayou." In fact, it's so similar that royalty payments may be in order. But once the verses kick in, it's pure Decoys. "That's right, sweet cheeks / We spell Milton with a 'T' in it / U.S.A.," Root sings gruffly. Testify, brother.
The band takes a detour into geeky funk with "Rousseau Jungle," a tune about Henri Rousseau's early forays into painting. In the jungle, of course.
"Bat Actors" is a revved-up number with surf-punk guitars and paranoiac vocals. Did I mention it's about bats? The tune is so daffy, it could be an early B-52's single. "People think they're creepy and it really isn't fair / They don't have feathers, they have body hair," Root bellows. All true statements, actually.
A reggae vibe is attempted on "North Sound Blues," which describes boating in the North Country. Unlike the other tracks, the tune failed to hold my attention. I guess it's just not funny enough.
"Winter Rose" is a bluegrass-infused love song, while "Chicken Pluckin' Day" is about people coming together over poultry. "It was through the efforts of the entire community / We raised up a bunch of chickens from pullings to maturity," Blankinship warbles on the latter. Suffice it to say, PETA would not approve of the outcome.
The Decoys are definitely odd ducks. Hear them live at Burlington's Second Floor with Stealing From Thieves and The Wards on Thursday, August 3.