Thursday, June 11, 2009

Fun! Depressing! Depressing Fun!!

Some quick comments regarding what I've had "On The Platter" this past month, before I switch it up a bit:

Booker T., Potato Hole (A) -- Booker T. is always fun and worth listening to, but with Neil Young and the Drive-By Truckers lending a musical hand, the fun becomes cubed. Small confession: I like the DBTs -- they've got attitude to spare, and an interesting approach to their subject matter -- but I rarely reach for their studio records. The disc that gets the most play in my car is Alabama Ass Whuppin', a (now) hard-to-find live set recorded in some hole-in-the-wall (A). Why? Because they sound like they're having fun, while on their studio discs things just get too damn serious and depressing. I'm fine with depressing, but I'd rather have fun. Potato Hole is incredible fun.

Slaid Cleaves, Everything You Love Will Be Taken Away (A, e) -- Speaking of fun, it would be a mistake to bypass a Slaid Cleaves album just because the title is depressing. Cleaves doesn't shy away from incredibly sad subject matter, but neither does he wallow in it. His subjects might get beaten up by life, but they let shine some genuine character. Cleaves songs can be grimly funny, angry, cussedly stubborn ... they are all, in their sour-breathed way, determinedly life-affirming. This disc, as with Broke Down, is going to be played for a long, long time.

Steve Earle, Townes
(A) -- I acknowledge that Townes Van Zandt was an incredible songwriter and an unforgettable performer. But I like Earle's stuff better. I'm not entirely sure why, except that Earle's craft and sensibility have improved since he cleaned up, while TVZ often slid toward an amber-hued sentimentality. Earle is doing this (frequently with his son, Justin Townes Earle) because he knew and loved the man, and that certainly makes the project a deep pleasure to listen to. But I'm looking forward to his next album of original material.

Sarah Borges & The Broken Singles, The Stars Are Out
(A, e) -- getting back to the fun: I'd like to compare Sarah's style to Joan Jett or Lucinda Williams (when she feels like cutting loose), but Borges and the Broken Singles have their own thing happening. If you're like me, you want to hear what this sounds like (you won't be disappointed).


DarkoV said...

Dead on with all CD's noted.
I'd put the Slaid Cleaves album close to the top of the "Driving into the Ditch" list. His lyrics stomp on every last desperate fingernail hold on happiness while his voice, sometimes a touch below a squeal, lets you know you're not getting out of this album with a hint of a smile. The antitode, as you pointed out, is to play Potato Hole immediately.
And loudly.

Rob in Victoria said...

I'm rapidly becoming a HUGE DBT fan (Plastic Flowers on the Highway is playing -- loud -- as I type this). If you get a chance to see them live, don't hesitate (though do moderate your Jack Daniels consumption. I speak from experience)

If you're looking to get a sense of that experience, you should pick up their Live at the 40 Watt dvd -- 20+ songs from the first nights of their The Dirty South tour. Worth it for the encores alone. Hell, worth if for People Who Died alone...

They might just be the greatest rock and roll band in the world right now.

Whisky Prajer said...

DV - I guess it's just me, 'cos I do find Mr. Cleaves strangely uplifting. Maybe it's just a Finally someone's singing songs I can relate to reaction.

RiV - man, it is all about the performance for those guys. And it is remarkable how their performances seem to induce one toward inebriation. Remarkable also how PWD seems to have become their song.

Rob in Victoria said...

Well, for me it's the whole of the second disc of Southern Rock Opera. Esp Let There Be Rock.

Which is how I ended up covered in whiskey in Seattle last November. When jubiliantly cheering a stunning encore, with all of the Hold Steady and the DBTs (and I'm pretty sure a gorilla) performing the song, it's best to ensure that you're holding an empty glass before wildly whooping with it over your head.