Friday, July 23, 2010

The Old Main- Debut Album

Songs for the new depression, or songs for the manic depressive?  Rod Lacy digs deep into his psyche while taking an unblinking look at the good and bad in all of us.  No sunny pop songs here, Lacy the offspring of Northwestern New Mexico coal miners is not afraid of the dark. Rod plays guitar in the style of the San Francisco psychedelic rockers of the Haight Asbury era, clear fluid leads with minimal distortion, on vocals his distinctive twang speaks of his heritage, while the banjo on some of the tracks could fool you into thinking that it's the hills of Kentucky that he sings about, instead of  Western New Mexico coal country.   In 2004, Rod had abandoned his previous band "Weldon"  by abruptly moving  to Ruidoso. That winter while stuck in a mountain cabin during a snowstorm, Rod assembled  the songs that would make up his 2006 solo album "Blacklung."  Working alone, he played  all the instruments while preserving his efforts on a 4 track recorder.  The Old Main's (named after the infamous main building of the Santa Fe state prison) debut album is the almost identical studio version of "Blacklung." For the The Old Main studio sessions Rod was joined by Mojo Atzberger (Atomic Love Medicine) and Zoltan Szekely (Rakes of Mallow)
  "Remnants of Gibson" finds Rod reminiscing "Coming out of the ground it's going to last forever"  but knowing that it can't, he adds "At least we might make it stretch a little bit long." Emotionally played out,  Rod finds himself overwhelmed "Going out of my head, the thoughts won't deliver, if ever" but as he sings, the thoughts come faster than he can process them, until in frustration he strikes at his guitar over and over, like a man at end of his rope, slamming his head into a wall.  When the last mine at Mogollon closed, the miners painted a clock on the hillside, the arms forever frozen at four o'clock, it stands as a silent witness to the end of an era. "The way that you'll know that it's time to go" but  sometimes you don't need a clock to know when your time is up. On "Gamerco" Rod sings: "The coming down was the hardest part, but now I know when I'm ok",  but he's not, his life is unraveling, and all attempts at self medication have failed. He's emotionally numb, as he tries to mend his relationship   "I can't hear, what you can't say" he tells her, while shifting some of the blame to himself  "Saving face was never too smart, to make a mess in the first place" seeking an island of calm in the midst of turbulent times, he knows where to find it "I'm lost inside of my head, but I just don't mind" and who said you can't ever go home again.  "Young Faith Healer/Image Adjust" starts with Jim Jones imploring his followers to drink the Kool-Aid. "How very much I've loved you...." when Rod cuts him off  "I'm sick and tired of hearing about tomorrow, what will you do when there's no one left to follow" the true believers have been betrayed, confusion and hysteria builds  "We are sitting here waiting on a powder keg" Jim Jones reminds them, Rod won't have it, he answers back  "what's fucked to some is another man's salvation," but the healer maintains control "we commit an act of revolutionary suicide to protest the conditions of an inhumane world"  slowly his voice becomes more and more disembodied, good bye Jim, sweet dreams in hell.  Now with the monster dead, the mood has grown somber, it's time to reflect, why did so many follow him to the death?  "The situation has always been, a steady leak in the levy" Rod sings, beware of false prophets he reminds us "Think for yourself when you're ready"
On Blacklung, Rod sings from the perspective of a downtrodden coal miner, nearly broken in body, but not in spirit.  He's a study in contradictions,  while he sounds anti-intellectual "These five dollar words are just a waste of time" he keeps a level head with  a mantra that has it's origins in the cult of the goddess Isis "Simplicity is the key to doors divine" which Rod repeats like an incantation. "I smoke cigarettes and drink the pain away, climb in the bed and that's all that I can say" a theme that runs through Rod Lacy's songs is physical and mental exhaustion, the common man killing himself to make a living. "I've got these hard time, blacklunged, coal miner blues" but rather than feeling sorry for himself  he stands defiant "I'd feel just fine if these slave driving fucks would get in line, they can pucker up and make the holy sign, they can kiss my ass, cus they've been kicking mine" the last line Rod repeats three times, the miner's version of an incantation. Rod Lacy hits on many common themes, for example on the bluesy "Heartaches on Vinyl"  He takes inventory of his mental and emotional state. "You know I never mind too much for you to peek inside of my heart there's really nothing there to see unless your eyes work in the dark" his heart is cluttered with the debris of heartache and loss, nothing some good house keeping won't fix. "Murderers, Thieves and Misfits" starts off with  a convict looking back on his mistakes,"This poor planning and bad choices have got me sitting here just passing the time" he blames society  "They've just never seen the likes of me now there's razor wire far as I can see." you do the crime, you do the time.  "My Name is..." the tale of a run in with the Zodiac Killer, has Rod telling the story "I been trying to fuck this girl out at Lake Berryessa, when along comes a man dressed as a devil" the ultimate cockblock  "Is he crazy?, yes he's crazy! but I didn't die!" Rod exclaims. Some guys just seem to have all the luck in the world, but what about the girl? "Notes scribbled in the dirt"  is a disturbing but beautiful love letter from a man near the edge, Rod's voice aches with doubt and despair as he sings  "I left a note scribbled in the dirt , you can read it when you come on through," sounds sweet until he adds "I made a sign of skin that I burned on my arm just for you" what do you say to that! Thank You?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Let It Suck- Saddlesores

The cover for "Let it Suck"  tells you what's in store, it's a tongue in cheek take off on The Rolling Stones "Let It Bleed" album.  This, however is not a Stones tribute album, it's much more, it's the culmination of  all the trials and tribulations that this band went through during its existence.   Most music critics dwell on who the Saddlesores sound like, maybe because they wear their influences like tattoos .  However they have gone beyond their many influences to create a signature sound.  The shame of it all is that that the band really hit their stride on this album, the group's best and last.  Chris Martin on  drums kicks in the lead track "Cumon-n-Luvme" a song about a daddy's girl turned bad. "Driving around your cul de sac and I was Bored! Bored! Bored!" croons Cole in his familiar drawl.  He then tells her to "Ease out your window and slip out the back," while the chorus implores the girl, "To do what you do best, Cumon-n-Luvme."  The gal is just a tad smarter than Cole likes so he blurts out "What's your SATS got to do with me, your future Phi Beta Kappa is all Greek to me." So is the girl coming down or not?, Cole has his doubts so he breaks into a series of yelps and moans as he pleads  "I don't mind, Cumon-n-Luvme I don't mind."  Meanwhile  in the background Keith Drummond and Ben Harrison add some gritty, bump and grind guitars. Chris Martin who led us into this tale of wanton lust, now leads us out with a furious drum solo that drives a crowd of random onlookers to start hootin' and hollerin'. That's Dating, Albuquerque style!
The high lonesome yodel that leads you into "Cry (x5)" says it all, this is a song about  heartbreak, drinking and crying in whatever order you like.  There seems to be a sudden rash of broken hearts, as Cole tells it  "the traffic cops are nervous, they know you're up to no good, cus the pickup trucks are lined up in your neck of the woods." Damn pitiful sight, all those ole boys just pining away, but Cole feels their pain "Nobody wants to feel lonesome, nobody wants to feel blue" he sums it up "just like every other stiff in this joint trying to get over you!" Damn that's just more "tears in my beer"  than a good man can choke down.  Bartender!, now I really do need a drink, what the...... whoa there fella, who said you could sit next to me?  Why don't you take that black coffee, that greasy enchilada and move to a booth in the back....What!....hey don't be a martyr, just move on, some people have nerve, I tell you.   "Gravity" tells the tale of a barfly ("string ties and cigarettes, big excuses, petty lies and no regrets") the story unfolds to a tex-mex beat,  "He's drugstore cowboy cool, he rides a mean bar stool" sings Cole, however  this beer bottle wrangler is not what he seems to be, Cole adds "He says, those sons of bankers and sons of doctors, those sons of bitches and their lawyers, I was once on top of that heap, seems like I died in my sleep" then he lets his guard down and in the process we realize just how vulnerable this urban cowboy really is. "Because here I sit with my finger on the trigger and I'm trying to recapture, trying to re-figure......Hold me close...Gravity."
 "Well Oh Well" is a  romp and stomp love song, which after a rousing harmonica intro, Cole spits out   "you say you feel like a tramp and I'm sorry, you feel like a whore and oh well, but I must disagree cus I'm destined to know, You feel pretty good to me!"  The joys and pleasures of drink and women brought to us by Albuquerque's version of the Glimmer Twins.  "Melancholy"  the Saddlesore's Arena Rock opus closes out the album, it starts out slow and quiet "Melancholy that's my name, but I'm not sure of anything" Cole sings it like he's on horseback, cold and tired after a long night of riding herd (them are Longnecks, not Longhorns, son!) and then midway into the song, the band ups the ante, the guitars build to a crescendo, Chris pounds the skins with gusto while Cole rides on top of the big beat. "Milk and Honey was my name but I'm stuck with sour grapes and blame" he sings as the music continues to build, this time there is no turning back, they will ride till they drop.  One guitar rains down a shower of controlled feedback that I can only describe as regal, while the other guitar builds to a Pete Townsend style climax. Yeah! cue the Bic lighters, let us celebrate these bards of the barroom, yes they are poets, but poets with muscle cars, mullets and guitars.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The 50 Best Albums (That I Can Get My Hands On)

The upcoming review of the Saddlesore's "Let it Suck!" album, is the second in a series  that will feature the 50 best albums recorded by local bands and artists.  The first installment featured Fast Heart Mart's "The Red Record" posted on June 5th 2010.  Compiling a list of the best albums proved to be more of a chore than I anticipated.  The list started with thirty albums but it quickly grew to fifty. It could be longer but i'm only including the albums that I own or that can be readily purchased. Some albums are out of print, others are really hard to find,in retrospect  this project could be called  "The 50 best albums by local bands that I can get my hands on.  I'll review the albums in no particular order, just whatever I can listen to first.