Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires have released their latest 7″ this past week. The Alabama rock outfit on the SubPop label, purportedly ‘Too Loud For Texas‘ and known for their energy-filled performances, are coming from the release of 2014’s Dereconstructed which was not only Essential Listening, but my choice for Album of the Year.
While the track opens with thirty seconds of the blistering rock and roll we’ve learned to expect from this band, featuring wailing guitars and crashing cymbals, there’s eventually a brief intermission: Bains, singing quietly on a song for the first time since the band’s 2012 debut, with a simple piano accompaniment, before the rock returns with a vengeance. The point is made. The Glory Fires’ next effort, tentatively titled “Juvenile Detention”, may not be any less aggressive, but may be far more melodic than Dereconstructed. “Sweet Disorder” can be sung without having to be shouted. As the song builds to a climax and then breaks down, you find yourself wondering at the complexity that is possible even within such a powerful wall of sound (was that a trumpet?). Be prepared for it to get stuck in your head, doubly so once you read the lyrics.
The devil may be in the details, but the power of Bains’ songwriting is always in the lyrics. I strongly urge all Glory Fires fans to check them out; they read very easily as stand-alone poems. In Bains’s own words, “The song developed out of months spent revisiting the Objectivist poets, binging on early Clash albums, and observing the Atlanta actions surrounding the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner and other unarmed people of color.” While we on the site have been careful to keep personal politics out of our posts, Bains’s principles made up the bulk of his material on Dereconstructed, and are part and parcel of his music. With this track, Bains is honing his skills as a messenger, delivering sincere and incisive criticism of social norms and systems. While some music may be timeless, dealing with eternal themes like love and loss, who can deny the timeliness of a lyric focused on modern issues such as transgender rights:
I saw them lock her in her body, and tell her that it’s bad
Under the guise of affection.
You can pick “Sweet Disorder” up over on the SubPop website.
The B-side of the 7″ is a cover, “Stars” by the Primitons. The Primitons were a Birmingham band from the 80’s, one Bains describes with clear respect in the release for the single. You can hear it hear, and though while Bains plays it acoustic (there’s a definite Cheap Girls vibe), the original is very electric and very punk. It’s clear that the band influenced Bains in his Alabama youth, and likely continue to do so: just listen to those melodies!
The Cover is one of the most loving acts (or self-centered ones) a musician can undertake. Whether it’s the carefully crafted cover of an all-time favorite or the passionate proselytizing of a new fan, few things are as exciting to fans as covers. It’s a way for artists to pass on their knowledge and tastes, help spread the message of their influences, and most importantly help their buddies sell some records.
Some of these covers achieve almost-legendary status in their own way: how many younger Lucero fans had never heard of Jawbreaker before they heard “Kiss The Bottle”? That was where Lucero came from. How many had not heard of Glossary and Joey Kneiser before Ben Nichols played “Bruised Ribs”? That was the caliber of songwriting that an older Nichols was endeavoring to match. As soon as I learned from Chad Price that Drag The River’s “Leaving In The Morning” was a Lenny & The Piss Poor Boys cover, I bought Lenny’s record immediately. Michael Dean Damron’s soulful cover of Thin Lizzy’s “Dancing In The Moonlight” got me to listen to a phenomenal rock and roll band I always associated with classic rock stations and movie montages.
Is there anything more exciting than hearing a song entirely new to you and discovering that not only do you have a new song, but an entirely new artist to listen to? What are some of your favorite covers, and discoveries you’ve made from them? Let us know in the comments!!