HOLY GHOST ELECTRIC SHOW – THE GREAT AMERICAN HOLY GHOST ELECTRIC SHOW

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The Great American Holy Ghost Electric Show is the perfect title for this band’s debut album. The folks over at This Is American Music have again brought us something strange, new, and righteous. The record pulsates with wild imagery in the Southern Gothic style, mixing a very modern search for meaning in life with the blood and fire of the Old Testament. This six man band is at times a soul train running gleefully off the tracks, and a somber exploration of different ways to express melancholy and longing at others. There is no one song that would sum this band up, but any song is enough to make you want to see the band play live.

This is a rough album, and I mean that in the most literal way. The music is played from the heart. Each member of the band expresses themselves very clearly using their instrument, but clear does not translate to polished. They seem to be playing not just the song, but off of each other. The lyrics are raw, blunt and esoteric all at the same time. The instrumentation seems like an expression of the lyrics, and the lyrics feel like spoken word that would flow out regardless of the music underneath; two voices speaking in harmony instead of unison. I don’t know what it is about the children of preachers writing songs, but they all seem to have this distance, this worldliness, this fear of knowing so little about this world but too much about the next.

Around now is when I’d start calling out individual songs, but I don’t think that works this time around. The Great American is an album that is meant to be experienced as a whole, as a journey from start to finish. You get the impression that it isn’t meant to be completely understood by the audience, that there are some deep personal impulses at play. The weight of the record, more in the tone than in the music, can easily feel overwhelming and as such this isn’t a record that will stay on repeat for me, but that’s okay. Some experiences are meant to be given space, to be considered before they book is closed on them.

To sum up: Holy Ghost Electric Show is messy and forceful and a little disjointed, but driven and fantastic and new. Most of all, the music is fun. I won’t pass up a chance to watch them play, and you shouldn’t either.

‘And why do I take everyone so personal? 
Tell me why do I take everyone so personal 
I’m comfortable with my mortality 
But I don’t think my mortality is comfortable with me’

Highway Towns
Fireworks Over Fairview
Kerosene Heater Blues

Buy The Great American Holy Ghost Electric Show, digitally or in CD format, at their Bandcamp, and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

As always, much love to This Is American Music.

EP REVIEW EXTRAVAGANZA – JAMISON, MUHRONI, CHILDERS

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BONES MUHRONI – HABITS

Bones Muhroni are the epitome of the fun band that you knew in college. Their wild energy and excitement at performing are hard to get across without seeing them live, but damned if “Habits” off of the eponymous EP doesn’t come close. Chris ‘Bones’ Jones and Crew ‘Muhroni’ choogle through the track with bleary self-awareness (was that right? Did I use ‘choogle’ right? Am I a music journalist now?), the style and tempo of the song shifting at their slightest whim. That’s who Bones Muhroni is: a fun band throwing a lot of different sounds at the wall and seeing what sticks. You may have a hard time finding a consistent through-line for the four tracks on this EP, but one thing you won’t have a hard time finding is blunt, almost naive, honesty.

Habits

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TYLER CHILDERS – LIVE ON RED BARN RADIO II

If you have been paying attention to this blog, you know the name Tyler Childers. He released his first record at 20 (check out Autopsy IV’s review here) and then nothing else came out for three or so years. His Live on Red Barn Radio was stellar, and felt too short for something that sounded so promising. This EP is the companion to that one, and while it may not seem as impressive it’s hard to hold that against Childers: if all 8 of these songs were on a full-length album it would undoubtedly be Essential Listening. Pick up this EP and join the rest of us frothing at the mouth for his sophomore LP.

Coming Down

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CHRIS JAMISON – SLEEPING WITH THE TV ON

This EP has been out for almost a year now, but only came to my attention recently. Jamison has a quiet voice and penchant for metaphor that reminds me of Joey Kneiser, though it would be hard for anyone to actually match up to the Glossary front-man. Some of these tracks are a little too over-produced for my taste, but that doesn’t change the fact that there’s some solid songwriting going on here. “Waiting on a Change” has a quiet, almost forlorn melody that sticks with you for a while. ‘The good never win, because they can’t leave well enough alone’. Check this record out, and I know I’ll be keeping an eye on Jamison in the future.

Waiting on a Change

CAVE STATES – THE GREAT DIVIDE

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Pain can take many different forms. What we’re used to, in this little corner of the musical world, is raw energy and brute force. Even our best singer/songwriters can cut loose when they want to, using volume and power to get the point across from time to time.

Cave States from St. Louis, Missouri has a different delivery. This album, The Great Divide, is delicate. Not every album can have a Tim Barry-style screamer on it, and even Tim Barry parses those out as necessary.  Many of the songs on this album are love songs with lines or choruses that might seem trite at first listen. Taking each song in as a whole, though, you can note hints of unspoken pain.

Cave States takes great care, though, to construct all of the instrumentation and harmony with precision. The opening track, “Loose Shoes”, paints a very specific picture of the possible end of a relationship that’s been around for a while, and what’s it’s like to be the person willing to hold on. Perhaps tellingly, the last track of the album deals with the same theme, asking a loved one to ‘forget about the old days’.

This band is made up of St. Louis locals who have been around the block a few times and decided to band together to put out an album of their own stuff. It’s definitely a mood piece and may not be for everyone, but listening to the first song got me to listen to the rest of it, and sometimes that’s exactly what you need an album to do.

Familiar Ways
Down By The Lake
Loose Shoes

You can buy The Great Divide by Cave States in CD form at Euclid Records, and of course from iTunes or Amazon.

NANCARROW – HEART

Nancarrow - Graham

Sometimes the best thing that music can be is fun. I call fun music I don’t expect to stay in my rotation ‘road trip music’. Nancarrow’s Heart is perfect road trip music. With the Twitter bio of “Farm Raised. Realtor. Country Singer.” it’s clear that Graham Nancarrow isn’t trying to compete with John Moreland or Jason Isbell, but that shouldn’t be a slight against his songs. Fun is fun.

The single from this EP, “Party”, is a bouncy song with a raucous chorus; it’s the kind that stays stuck in your head for a day and a half and you find yourself tapping a toe to without realizing it. Many of these songs are similarly catchy, with brash instrumentation that I imagine would lend to a live performance and lyrics that are relate-able if not insightful.

The imagery of going to a lake and having fun with your friends seems to sum up this record, and that’s the perfect time and place for it. Spend five bucks. Buy this record. Grab some cheap beer and some close friends, and put it on while you swap stories of awful first dates. Get drunk all day. Sleep it off. Play it on the way back, only quieter.

You can get Heart by Nancarrow here.

Party

Heart

Fun