Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Maybe I am an urban ploughboy

I've never sat atop a horse, drank moonshine from a clay jug, or rhymed Chattahoochee with hoochie coochie.

However, as I've been playing catchup with my music recently, I've found myself drawn away from the Rakes, the Decemberists, and Green Day to two albums that belie my pasty, white city boy complexion: Fleet Foxes self-titled album, and the Flatlanders Hills and Valleys.

Fleet Foxes are from Seattle and signed to Sub Pop, but their sound is pure early 70s Neil Young. Check out the great harmonies and lyrics in their single, White Winter Hymnal:



The animation's cool too.

The Flatlanders are a different story; formed and disbanded in the early 70s, the Flatlanders didn't find success until much later on, when alternative music fans discovered their incredible 1972 album, More a Legend Than a Band.

After successful solo careers, Jimmy Dale Gilmore, Butch Hancock, and Joe Ely reformed the band over 20 years after it disbanded; Hills and Valleys is their third album of new material, and is quite possibly the best of their recent output.

An anti-Bush vibe permeates the album, as the song titles "Homeland Refugee" and "Borderless Love" imply. However, I'd say that Gilmore steals the show with upbeat numbers, "The Way We Are" and "Cry For Freedom."

And Hancock's "Thank God for the Road" is a guaranteed sing-along at any country bar, though a closer listen reveals some characteristically clever wordplay. There's no official video for the Flatlanders' new album, so this so-so fan slide show will have to do:



One of the best shows I've ever seen is the Flatlanders' free summer concert on the banks of the Red River on the St. Boniface side of the Provencher Bridge - pre-Homeless Hero and Salisbury House, though the actual year escapes me.

"Winnipeg sure looks a lot like Lubbock: you can see 100 miles in any direction," said Gilmore. "If you stand on a tuna-fish can, you can see 200 miles in any direction."

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