On their second release, the Riptones trim down to a trio for an album of twangy honky-tonk. Throw in some instrumental surf ("Big Timber") and noir-ish rockabilly ("Barbedwire Scars") and COWBOYS INN adds up to a record that fans of the genre might expect to come out of Lubbock instead of a Milwaukee studio.
Frontman Jeb Bonansinga has a rumbling vocal style just north of Junior Brown's. He particularly shines on the Texicali-flavored "Jack's Last Time," a track that recalls vintage Joe Ely. In addition, the songs offer no shortage of interesting characters, whether it's the heart-breaking/ home-wrecking "Run Around Man," the sad sack "Otis Hayes" or the eccentric "Crazy Charlie." With its eccentric cast list and sly stylistic allusions, COWBOYS INN re-colonizes the wild west with flair.