An offshoot of the arty L.A. punk band X, the Knitters have put out two albums in a quarter-century. The first, Poor Little Critter on the Road, came out in 1985, when the concept of a rock band—and punkers no less—going full-bore country was a genuine novelty. As such, the Knitters (and a few other bands, like the Mekons) were way out ahead of the alt-country movement, which was in full swing by the time the Knitters released The Modern Sound of the Knitters in 2005. A similar shtick reigns on both: Ex-spouses John Doe and Exene Cervenka do their best to emulate George Jones and Tammy Wynette, Dave Alvin from the Blasters adds a certain rockabilly strum und twang, the originals have a dusty authenticity, and covers of the likes of Merle Haggard and brothers Delmore and Stanley are sincere and often glowing, while drummer D.J. Bonebrake and bassist Jonny Ray Bartel toss a little thrash into their country gallops. Considering the jumble of roots at X's core, the Knitters were never all that much of a stretch. The multiple dynamics at work in their music remain eminently worth hearing. 18+.
Wed., May 12, 8 p.m., 2010