This week on the radio show I participated in KRFC’s pledge drive. It was way too much of me asking for money and trying to create witty banter with someone else. I prefer to do my radio alone. So instead of subjecting you to that I put together a totally different patch of songs with less talking. I was in my living room with a beer, a dog and a shitty microphone. But the songs are good.
Around these parts The Fox Hunt is a legendary band. Their album, Nowhere Bound was named Nine Bullets’ album of the year in 2007. I was lucky enough to catch The Fox Hunt live a couple of times while I was living in Mississippi. I don’t know how much they toured outside of the southeast and they didn’t last long enough for many of their fans. During those years John R. Miller had a side band called Prison Book Club. They were a rock outfit but John’s songs worked both in bluegrass and in rock. After The Fox Hunt called it a day Prison Book Club was more active. They released two albums and played some shows. Now John R. Miller is back with a solo album, Service Engine.
Service Engine reminds me of Patterson Hood’s Killers & Stars. Both recordings have a living room vibe with stripped down arrangements and well written songs. I can’t tell if it’s just John playing or singing or if he’s got a second guitar on some of the songs, but it’s beauty is in the simplicity and his unique turns of phrase.
In the opening, “Motor’s Fried,” John sings “You don’t sink a boat just because your motor’s fried” and in “Lost In Your Mind” “Because when it’s done the fruit ain’t worth the rine.” Both lines remind of the kind of salt of the earth wisdom that’s all over Chris Offutt’s short story collection Kentucky Straight and in the songs of Billy Joe Shaver. Throughout the album, including the artwork, John effortless blends dirt-under-your-nails realism with genuine human emotion. This kind of thing doesn’t happen enough in music, not some kind of hokey songs for the working man but actual songs with an awareness of work.
I’d love it if The Fox Hunt started making music again (and there are rumors that it’s happening) but more John R. Miller music in any form is welcomed. Service Engine is Essential Listening and worth the seven dollars he’s asking for it over at bandcamp.
The Clash “Clash City Rockers” from The Clash
Sebadoh “Weird” from The Sebadoh
Micah Schnabel “I’m Dead Serious” from I’m Dead Serious
Charley The City Mouse Fasano “Gasoline Fumes” from Retrospect/ed
The Minutemen “Jesus And Tequila” from Double Nickels on the Dime
John KaSandra “The Natural Do” from Single
John R. Miller “M.O.T.E” from Service Engine
Arlo McKinley & The Lonesome Sound “Time In Bars” from Arlo McKinley & The Lonesome Sound
Mother Merey And The Black Dirt “Old Rope” from Down To The River
Pixies “No. 13 Baby” from Doolittle
Peter Buck “Life Is Short” from I Am Back To Blow Your Mind Once Again
Benjamin Booker “Violent Shiver” from Benjamin Booker
Tyler Keith & The Apostles “Shadow Of A Cross” from Black Highway
Hey folks, today is my birthday so why don’t you give me the gift of listening to and sharing this week’s radio show. Blow this sucker out.
Old 97s “Barrier Reef” from Wreck Your Life
John R. Miller “Lost Your Mind” from Service Engine
Billy Joe Shaver “She Can Dance” from Electric Shaver
Benjamin Booker “Slow Coming” from Benjamin Booker
Lucero “Chain Link Fence” from Tennessee
Willie Nelson “The Wall” from Band of Brothers
The Coloradas “Like A Hawk in the Desert Sky” from Big Empty
Blue Mountain “Soul Sister” from Dog Days
Armchair Martian “Not Fine” from Good Guys Bad Band
Shovels & Rope “Pinned” from Swimmin’ Time
John Moreland “Gospel” from In The Throes
Samantha Crain “Taught To Lie” from Kid Face
Chad Rex and the Victorstands “Cigarette Hand” from Gravity Works Fire Burns
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