Chuck Ragan “Feast Or Famine” LP
Chuck Ragan “Los Feliz” LP
Chuck Ragan & Austin Lucas “Bristle Ridge” LP
Now everybody kept telling me I should go and buy these records because what Mr Ragan is doing on his own sounds so great and fantanstic. To be honest, I had never been a huge Hot Water Music fan throughout the years. Sure, their music was okay to me, I own one or two records, their live shows were good … but I never really fell for them in a way that some of my friends did. To me they were always just a decent band with one or two hit songs. Nothing more, nothing less. Still I have to admit that I really liked Rumbleseat, the acoustic country sideproject. Rough yet very gentle at times and I guess that’s what I was looking for when I got myself the records of Mr Ragan. In a way it is a bit like Rumbleseat but then on the other hand it isn’t at all. It has a huge touch of folk music feeling to it. But because of his voice he manages to make it sound rather punk-ish. So if you are fed up with Rocky Votolato’s rather clean recordings, then this might be a treat. I like both of them though.
Tim Barry “Rivanna Junction” LP
Tim Barry “Manchester” LP
Staying with the acoustic genre we move on to another former frontman of a very energetic punkrock band. Now Avail is completely different for me because by them time I found them they were exactly what I had been looking for. Highly energetic, combining aggressiveness and melodic parts in their music, and they had a message. I instantly fell in love with their music and to this day their great show in Monheim still ranks among my personal top 10 of all times. I lost track of what they were doing after their brilliant “Over The James” LP and I was kind of surprised to find out they were still around. But their singer Tim Barry seems to have been on his own for some time, putting out acoustic country and folk songs. It’s in a way similar to what Chuck Ragan is doing, still Barry’s songs seem to be a little bit more agressive, as if he’s trying to capture the intesity of an Avail song in an acoustic set. Sometimes the lyrics seem to be a bit too preaching and too blunt, but on the other hand, I kind of understand why they were written that way, at least I like to think I do. This is good stuff.
Chuck Ragan/Tim Barry/Ben Nichols “Revival Road 2008” LP
So what better way than to send those artists on a tour together. They teamed up with fellow singer/songwriter Ben Nichols on this one and judging by the liner notes they must have had the time of their lives. There’s not many new songs on this, in fact I believe the songs by Tim Barry were all recorded and released priotr to this record. But it’s a nice collection of songs by those three musicians and a great way to check in on what they do. Considering that a lot of other former singers of bands like Chris Simpson of Mineral or Joey Cape of Lag Wagon/Bad Astronaut (who still sings in those bands, I know) put out acoustic recordings nowadays it keeps me wondering if that’s how you grow old in style as a punkrock musician.
This Will Destroy You/Lymbyc Systym “Field Studies” LP
Watching This Will Destroy You play live last year really was a great experience as they were able to reproduce all the soundscapes they build on their recordings live on stage. And they are really nice guys as well. So when I stubled across this split release I was very pleased to get new stuff by the band. Nothing has changed, really, and just for this time I am not bothered by it. Thee way the incorporate electronic patterns into their atmospheric sound is simply beautiful. Lymbyc Systym on the flipside are quite similar to what This Will Destroy You are doing as the also play very epic and wonderful instrumental songs. There isn’t a lot which separates those two bands, I guess it’s just small things. So when you listen to this record you don’t get the feeling that it’s two different bands but one. A great fit indeed.
MONO “Hymn To The Immortal Wind” 2xLP
I have been waiting for this one anxiously. Mono have become one of my all time favourite bands and I consider their last record a masterpiece. The topped it with this one, although I have to admit that I will have to listen to this record a lot more often to get used to it. They really turned into a monster. Judging from the list of people who contributed to this recording it looks more like a huge orchestra with strings and so on. Which makes sense when you look at the way Mono are playing their sound. It sort of grows out of the usual band structure and feels more like a huge concert hall. They lost a bit of their heavyness only to replace it with wonderful arrangements for the string parts. But it’s still Mono, so there are those occasional outbursts of loud and distorted guitars which wake you up from your dreams. A worthy follow up.