J. Scott Watson
I'd Give It FIVE STars if those bastardos at CD Baby would let me . . . .
GODDAMNIT I love this record!
Let’s get the obvious things out of the way: yes, they’re from Minneapolis. Yes, Jason Miller can sound some-almighty-godly like Westerberg on a wailed, plaintive phrase, especially on the slow, low-intensity numbers. Yes, mister lynch can yank a single-string country lick that you’ve heard a million tikmes before [but in a setting you may not expect]. And yes, the rhythm section is a tight little unit that does little that’s flashy. Yeah, it seems like boozing it up is a big theme.And finally – yes, there’s next-to-nothing new here.
Okay – we’ve covered the obvious about the Evening Rig.
What’s also obvious to just about every reviewer that has published something, and to everyone I grab by the shoulder and restrain while I hit “play,” is that this is a fantastic band with punch, and aggression, and subtlety, playing dynamite songs that are being delivered by a great frontman.
I’ve sat through some consumer-grade YouTube video stuff, and I am so put off by that medium that I won’t address what the *band* is like – I just don’t know; they have yet to make their way here to the East Coast [at least since I discovered them]. But I can tell you that the RECORD is freakin’ amazing.
“Steve McQueen” is a fantastic rocker that kicks off the LP in classic style – a driving song about a chick with wailing guitars and rock solid rhythm, and a haunting, familiar melody sung on the edge by Miller – but never over the edge. A “song about a chick” turns out to be a concerned, but not pitying, little study of how goddamned tough it must be to be the chick who only goes out with a certain type of guy. All in under three minutes. Kim Morgan should be blogging about this song as an inspiration for a road movie.
“Half Asleep” and “In Spite of All That Happened” will be reviewed later. They have struck me as “seemingly predictable,” but always followed by “oooh; *that* came outta noweher” with a big smile rising on my face. BUT I leave them ‘til another day because I always skip to . . .
“Hilltop Pines,” which is featured prominently on the band’s MySpace page. This song has real Midwestern-y, country-ish, drinkin’ song roots. I’m pretty sure it’s about one of those “immediate attractions / she caught my eye” things. But DAMN if it doesn’t perfectly capture . . . me. “She was a wishing well // over my head, I fell into” captures my [flawed] romantic life perfectly. Maybe it describes yours. If not, you’ll still be singing along with the band.
Goddamnit, I’m outta space and time. Just buy this. If you’re disappointed, come to me for your money back. I know I won’t hear from anybody, because the record’s great.
PS I hate the “sounds like” game; it’s not fair to anyone. So I’ll mention the bands that I like that come into my mind when I’ve been listening to this record for a while:
The Replacements, Jason and the Nashville Scorchers, The Neighborhoods, The Drive-By Truckers, Soul Asylum, the Action Figures, and the Intentions.
Goddamnit I love this record.