Ever wonder what it would sound like if the members of the best damn rock ‘n’ roll band in Austin got together after about five or so years, corralled a bit of controlled chaos and grit and melody, and channeled it into their best damn record since their last best damn record ? Me too! And now that I know, I’ve been spinnin’ The Golden Boys Better Than Good Times like a motherfuckin’ top!
Better Than Good Times is out now via 12XU, and available there and via Bandcamp. Rock it.
Ever wonder what it would sound like if Gollum took up Tuvan throat singing, rounded up some Orcs, and started a funeral doom metal band deep under the Misty Mountains? Me neither! But now that I know, I’ve been spinnin’ Derais’s Of Angel’s Seed and Devil’s Harvest like a motherfuckin’ top!
Ever wonder what the Psychedelic Furs would sound like if they reinvented themselves as a doom metal band with some prog tendencies? Me neither! But now that I know, I’ve been spinnin’ Alaric’s End of Mirrors like a motherfuckin’ top!
At long last, just over 40 years after it was recorded during a single August night in 1976, Neil Young’s Hitchhiker sees an official release. And what a release it is. Packed with known and loved songs, most of which have seen the light of day in one form or another over the years, Hitchhiker is pure, raw Neil– guitar, voice, harmonica, some piano, recorded straight through, excepting a few pauses for, according to his memoir Special Deluxe, “weed, beer, or coke.” Outside of stumbling upon him at some little known roadhouse bar, this is as raw and pure as it gets, and it’s worth rushing out to buy just to hear him roll through an acoustic version of “Powderfinger”. But then there’s the ever-enigmatic “Pocahontas”. The crushing “Give Me Strength”. The searching, wandering artist travelogue of the title track. And “Campaigner,” which draws a straight line from Nixon to our current Oompa-Loompa-in-Chief. Really, though, the pleasure is hearing the album as a whole piece, cover to cover, from the opening “You ready, Briggs?” to the last fading notes of “The Old Country Waltz”. Though the recordings have the feel and charm of demos, the album as a whole has the feeling of a fully realized vision, and you owe it to yourself– and to Neil– to hear it that way.
Hitchhiker is out now via Reprise and available pretty much anywhere you can buy music. Hook your local record store up with a few bucks, and yourself up with a great fuckin’ record.
Texas singer-songwriter Sam Baker is possessive of a singular voice, not just in the unique quality of his delivery– a sort of lean, half-spoken, slightly off-kilter drawl– but in his sparse, impressionistic poetic vision. With Land of Doubt, that vision is fully realized and wholly affecting. His talent as a writer has, over the years, drawn comparison to greats like Townes and Prine, but he also brings to mind, for me, favorites like Vic Chesnutt and Warren Zevon, if only because, like them (and Townes and Prine), his voice is so singular that he exists in a class all his own. (And I’d love to see him share a bill with Will Johnson. That show would fucking crush the audience.) He’s a true road poet, a troubadour, a lifer for the cause, who spins yarns of shadowed lives and spiritual yearning cast against austere arrangements, and the world he creates and the emotions he stirs with Land of Doubt resonate long after the last note rings out.