Thursday, April 14, 2011


The sound's familiar from the get-go: the herky-jerky rhythms, the trebly contrapuntal guitars, the bellowing declamatory vocals. On their debut disc, Austin's Churchwood are definitely filling the Captain Beefheart gap. The field's been open, what with the reunited Magic Band having re-retired, and Fast 'n' Bulbous (Gary Lucas and Phillip Johnston's Beefheart tribute band) having been inactive for a couple of years now. So if you're a sucker for that kind of jive like I am, these guys might be _just your meat_.

Frontman Joe Doerr (ex-Leroi Brothers) sounds like he ate the Don Van Vliet songbook a page at a time; his lyrics to songs like "Pontiac Flanagan" and "Melungeon in the Dungeon" wallow in the pure sounds of words in the same Joycean way that Don was wont to, while making their point more literally, which you might or might not see as an advantage. (I suspect he's hip to this, too -- why else would he have penned a song called "Ulysses," albeit with lyrics about the Odyssey fella?) Doerr's vocals have the same blues grit as Van Vliet's, while lacking their range and tonal variety.

The band, led by ex-Poison 13 guitarist Bill Anderson, plays the same kind of idiosyncratic electrified Delta/Nawlins R&B grooves as the Magic Bands of Safe As Milk and Clear Spot, bypassing the Dada blues of Trout Mask Replica and Lick My Decals Off, Baby. A more apt comparison might be to late '70s flash-in-the-pan Root Boy Slim and the Sex Change Band, if anybody still remembers them, but these guys are better because they're smarter and not trying as hard to be weird or funny or whatever. And Anderson's "Car Crash" is a good ol' NRBQ/early Flamin' Groovies-styled roadhouse rocker to round things out.

Bottom line: Churchwood sounds like they'd be a lot of fun to see in a bar. You could even cut a rug to 'em, if you were so inclined. Another winner from Saustex Media, who previously brought you quality stuff by the Hickoids, Snowbyrd, the Service Industry, the Sons of Hercules, T. Tex Edwards and more.


Blogger haskins1 said...

Great stuff, love it!

7:35 AM  

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