Perhaps you remember the name Tyler Keith from my review two years ago of Black Highway by Tyler Keith and The Apostles, perhaps you remember the late-90’s garage rock band The Neckbones. On his latest release Alias Kid Twist, Tyler records solo and strips his classic surliness down to just his guitar, piano and voice. Folks around Mississippi have known for years of Keith’s talent with just a guitar but with the release of Alias Kid Twist a wider audience has a chance to hear the words that have been bellowing underneath the crunchy and jagged guitars for over a decade.
Teetering somewhere around a humorous Tom Waits, a surly Bob Dylan and the talented open mike singer who’s had a few too many drinks, the songs on Alias Kid Twist tap into feelings of desperation, vengeance and despair. A pop sensibility slips into “No More Trains,” a classic song about being stuck. Yet it is Keith’s voice, loaded with nasally distortion that carries these melodies out of the speakers and into the echoes inside our own heads.
If you have not read the book or seen the movie The Outsiders I pity you as a human. Clearly Keith has an affinity for the story of kids from the wrong side of the tracks banding together because “Do It For Johnny” chronicles the adventures of Dallas, Pony Boy and the others. Songs about books often leave something to be desired but “Do It For Johnny” captures the attitude, love and respect of these famous greasers.
There are a number of piano songs on Alias Kid Twist, including “Be Sure Your Sins” and “When The Holy Spirit Moves”, and these songs add much-needed depth and character to this collection.
Like the best of Tim Barry, Alias Kid Twist allows the listener to live inside their own despair and work through their disgust at the world one song at a time.