Listen while you read — Sugar Britches “Don’t Make Her a Mixtape Yet You Idiot” on Spotify
Brian Johanson and Josh Long perform as Sugar Britches, northern Colorado’s answer to the Old 97’s. Both groups take roots music far more seriously than they take themselves. Both groups can write hooks that stick like flypaper. And both groups benefit from versatile guitarists and clever songwriters.
The Old 97’s named its first album “Hitchhike to Rhome,” a pun about a tiny Texas burg, then filled it with catchy country-rock songs about crushes and heartache.
Similarly, Sugar Britches brings a fair share of love and loss to an album with funny, retro relationship advice for a title. Songwriter Brian Johanson has the writing chops of a snarky Gillian Welch, and his guitarist, Josh Long, adds just enough surf and rockabilly to keep the duo from becoming a Hank Williams cover band. Long studied jazz guitar at the University of Northern Colorado and proves that a good jazz guitarist can play pretty much anything.
Like many of the best-sounding records coming out of Fort Collins these days, this album was recorded and mastered by Darren Radach at Stout Studios.
The vocals are crisp and up-front, which is good because Johanson has some gut-punching lines about toxic relationships in “Worst,” and some funny pokes at alternative arrangements in “Polyamory.”
“Now my girlfriend has a big boyfriend and a very, very pretty wife,” he sings. “I don’t know where I fit in, but I always come out nice.”
Sugar Britches is playing an album release show on March 9 at Swing Station in Laporte. Bevin Luna opens, and tickets cost $5.