featuring the very best of americana, alt.country and roots music
August 27, 2016
And I'm up too damn early in the morning / Watching the world around me come alive / I need more fingers to count the ones I love / This life may be too good to survive -- Shovels & Rope
It's been way too long since we celebrated music that's just plain dumb fun. Think songs about drinking and cursing and having relations. Think Dexateens and their new collection, Teenage Hallelujah. After weeks of touting Music That Matters, with Important Lyrics and Earnest Sentiments and Stuff To Think About, this Episode we draw attention to music that appeals to a different bone. And I mean no harm here. I heap only the highest praise on bands like the Dexateens who can create music that is both musically satisfying and emotionally immature. It's Patterson Hood taking us to "Buttholeville", or Rhett Miller reflecting on "If My Heart Was a Car". Or Elliott McPherson picking us up in the Dexateens' "Shake n Bake Astrovan".
Think that Southerners spend their entire day eating cornbread and raising hell? Well, try "Eat Cornbread Raise Hell". Hailing from the wilds of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Dexateens' songs are actually profoundly Southern, steeped and soaked in the mythologies of the South. Because that rich dark dirt still clings to their roots, the stereotypes, criticisms and put downs directed at their fellow Southerners are as acceptable as Harry Crews' love/hate characterizations. As loose and sloppy as early Replacements, Dexateens are at their best just pounding away with equal glee and futility. Fondness and frustration. "Old Rebel" builds on slammed drums and beaten bass before succumbing to a fuzz of muddy guitar, calling out the foolishness of neighbors who pine for the resurrection of bygone symbols from the blue-and-gray to "Ronnie Van Z" and the KKK. It's no coincidence that former Dexateens have ventured from the nest to bring the fire to flag bearing bands like Drive-by Truckers and Lee Bains III & Glory Fires.
Which isn't to say that the Dexateens apply the same blunt hammer throughout Teenage Hallelujah. "Fellowship of the Saturday Night Brotherhood" tears the curtain between Saturday night and Sunday morning. Other pieces like "Working Hands" or "Treat Me Right" still trip along with the same shambling punk spirit, though they also feature some acoustic shading and an atypical softer touch.
Then we're back to the title cut, a 2 1/2 minute fight song that incorporates the irresistible rhythms of early garage rock and blues. On the Pop Matters blog, frontman Elliott McPherson puts a bow on it: "Some of this record was written about fun recreational stuff that we enjoy doing down here in Alabama and the hungover yearning for repentance that comes when you overdo it. Raising children, raising hell, spiritual searching, Alabama football, and of course old fashioned rock and roll".
Other new stuff this week from Kent Eugene Goolsby, John Calvin Abney and Aaron Lee Tasjan. With John Paul White, Courtney Marie Andrews, that's enough to cause a guy to wonder if he's subconsciously attracted to three name artists ... Best Song Ever for this week comes from Shovels & Rope's forthcoming Little Seeds record. As cited above, it a sweet, sparse celebration of friendship.
- Karen Dalton, "Something On Your Mind" In My Own Time (Light In the Attic, 71)
- Billy Bragg & Joe Henry, "Hobo's Lullaby" Shine a Light (Cooking Vinyl, 16)
- Greensky Bluegrass, "Take Cover" Shouted Written Down & Quoted (Big Blue Zoo, 16)
- Southern Culture On the Skids, "Freak Flag" Electric Pinecones (Kudzu, 16)
- Gourds, "Wired Ole Gal" Blood Of the Ram (Eleven Thirty, 04)
- Justin Wells, "Going Down Grinnin'" Dawn In the Distance (August, 16)
- Kent Eugene Goolsby, "Loveless Prayers" Temper Of the Times (Goolsby, 16) D
- Lori McKenna, "If Whiskey Were a Woman" Bird & the Rifle (McKenna, 16)
- Hiss Golden Messenger, "Tell Her I'm Just Dancing" Heart Like a Levee (Merge, 16)
- Aaron Lee Tasjan, "Little Movies" Silver Tears (New West, 16) D
- Hollis Brown, "Don't Want To Lose You" Cluster of Pearls (Alive Naturalsound, 16) D
- Richmond Fontaine, "Don't Look and It Won't Hurt" The Fitzgerald (El Cortez, 05)
- John Prine w/Susan Tedeschi, "Color Of the Blues" For Better Or Worse (Oh Boy, 16)
- John Calvin Abney, "Beauty Seldom Seen" Far Cries and Close Calls (Horton, 16) D
- Lydia Loveless, "Same To You" Real (Bloodshot, 16)
- John Paul White, "I've Been Over This Before" Beulah (Single Lock, 16)
- James McMurtry, "Screen Door" Highway Prayer: Tribute To Adam Carroll (Eight 30, 16) D
- Carolyn Mark, "In Another Time" Come! Back! Special! (Roaring Girl, 16)
- Dwight Yoakam, "These Arms" Swimmin' Pools Movie Stars (Sugar Hill, 16) D
- Courtney Marie Andrews, "Irene" Honest Life (Mama Bird, 16)
- Brent Cobb, "Black Crow" Shine On Rainy Day (Elektra, 16)
- Jesse Dayton, "Daddy Was a Badass" The Revealer (Blue Elan, 16) D
- Townes Van Zandt, "Pancho & Lefty (live)" Live At the Old Quarter Houston Texas (Tomato, 77)
- Shovels & Rope, "St. Anne's Parade" Little Seeds (New West, 16)
- Amanda Shires, "WhenYou're Gone" My Piece of Land (Shires, 16)
^ Dexateens, "Teenage Hallelujah" Teenage Hallelujah (Cornelius Chapel, 16) D
- Tim Easton, "Elmore James" American Fork (Last Chance, 16)
- Whiskeytown, "Waiting To Derail" Strangers Almanac (Geffen, 97)