“Uncle Ezra Ray,” you say, a long-buried spark igniting. “Uncle Ezra Ray like—”
Yes. Like that. Exactly like that. Exactly like, Uncle Kracker and Sugar “Mark McGrath” Ray and the guy from Better Than Ezra, a.k.a. Kevin Griffin—or, for our purposes, “Ezra”—have gone off and done it again, by which I mean, they’ve gotten into one of those carnival booths with all the fake money swirling around, except instead of air pumping in the booth it’s Cool Water and instead of money it’s music notes, and when the sweet creative whirlwind ceased the three of them had fused together into a countrified ‘90s supergroup whose name recalls nothing so much as “alt-radio slavecatcher,” i.e. Uncle Ezra Ray.
It me, Uncle Ezra. It you, Ezra Ray. It us—say it with me: UNCLE EZRA RAY.
Before we get to the hits (and oh, do they have them) let’s briefly recap who we’re dealing with. via some recent concert photos of the party people in question. First, Uncle Ray:
I know it’s not mine but I’ll see if I can use it for a weekend or a one-night stand, am I right?!
Second, Uncle Uncle:
All my bros at the Butterfinger Tune Corner ready to put on your party diaper? I thought so.(Reminder that Uncle Kracker is a 41-year-old convicted assaulter-of-women named Matthew Shafer whose rise to fame can be traced back to a fateful DJ competition in Michigan, in which his older brother competed against one Robert Ritchie, later to be known as Kid Rock. Wow!)
Finally, our dark horse, Uncle Ezra:
In the words of Russ Hanneman: “This guy fucks.” One fact about Kevin Griffin is that he co-wrote Howie Day’s “Collide,” which is the musical equivalent of a promposal and also the worst part of Arcade Fire’s “Afterlife.” Another fun fact about Kevin Griffin is that “Desperately Wanting” still SLAPS!
Okay! All right! Gang’s here! Let’s get it popping. We haven’t even gotten to the best part, which is their song, which is called “B.Y.H.B.,” which is short for BRING YOUR HOT BODY.
Bring my hot body? You don’t have to tell me twice, Kracker Barrel! I love that restaurant, it’s BYHB! Oh my god, are you listening to the song yet or what??
Is this the best song you’ve heard all year? Is it the worst?
IS IT BOTH?
The scene is set quickly, with Uncle Ray (if I’m not mistaken) hopping right on top of the amiable bubble-crunch hick-pop track to sketch out a classical evocation of an Uncle Ezra Soi-Ray. Like good buddies, the other two swiftly join him. Wanna get some homegirls spillin out a Cadillac poppin off an ice-cold 40 in a brown sack, they sing, and then roll into the chorus:
Can I get a hey hey? Can I get a what what?
Can I get a hell yeah? Raisin’ up a cup-cup
“We gots-ta, we gots-ta, we gots-ta party,” they say.
Can I get a beep beep? Naw that ain’t a truck-truck
Got me thinkin’ uh-huh when she backin’ up-up
Hey la-di-la-day, splash of Bacardi
B-Y-H-B, bring your hot bo-day!
It’s a remarkable performance from all three fortysomethings, with Uncle Kracker bringing the appropriate amount of authentic “vaping behind the 7/11” edge to fire bars like “She gets hard to handle, light a Roman Candle,” Uncle Ezra trying his best to sound country with lines about “drinking wine straight out the box,” and Uncle Ray rhyming “tie-dye T-shirt” with something about “flirt-eyes-my-my.” (Disclaimer: though I consider myself an expert in this genre, it’s entirely possible that I have mistaken each Uncle’s voice for the voice of another—such is the transformative power of Uncle Ezra Ray.)
There is some very tight and extremely watered-down electric guitar soloing, followed by a lovely little post-chorus interlude, where the Uncles bring their central question back to its essential intimacy. Can they get a hey-hey? Can they get a what-what?
Well, can they? Answers in the affirmative welcome below.
Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Images via Instagram, Getty