January 7, 2014
Paradise Of Bachelors 2013
I’m really not into assigning numbers to album reviews, like grades in some report card. In fact, I can’t stand shit like that so I won’t do it here, ever. I know you care about important things like that, I know. All these “Year End Best Of” lists are totally worthless, to me at least. So, saying that, please allow me to talk about a recent favorite of mine titled Time Off by Steve Gunn.
Solo artist and recent Kurt Vile collaborator Steve Gunn has laid an amazing record on us and nobody seems to know it. Ignorance is piss. Comprised of weaving acoustic guitars, floating bass, scattered/anchored drums and sometimes even vocals and Velvet Underground viola it’s the perfect marriage of experimental roots rock, self-conscious solos, and abstract beauty that I’ve heard in quite some time. Sounds pretty straightforward on paper but on wax it’s a whole different thing entirely. These songs weave in and out of yr mind and, if you allow them to, will levitate you for that brief moment. Gunn manages to infuse droning acoustic guitar songs with repeating hooks that lull you into some sort of weird security. I don’t know what kind but I like it. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. The first track off Time Off is the best example of this formula and my personal favorite. “Water Wheel” begins with the anchor riff front and center and continues almost unchanged, slithering throughout without getting repetitive. His music has so much fucking soul that even white men got to shout. The songs are also long, the shortest being just over 5 minutes and I like this. It works for him and they never feel boring. The last track, “Trailways Ramble”, sends you off with a hypnotizing Middle Eastern vibe that will leave you spinning in space. From start to finish this record has its own unique feeling and is a trip to experience. And to think I almost didn’t take the chance to see him play one night.
I have this problem when I go to shows. I see the opening act and automatically judge them by name alone. If the name doesn’t grab me right off the bat then I usually end up flaking out or not paying attention. This happened when I went to see Dinosaur Jr years ago and saw the name of the opener, Kurt Vile. “Kurt Vile?” I thought. The name conjured up the image of a middle aged blues-damaged man with a cover heavy set so I stayed downstairs at the bar gulping gin and tonics for his performance. Then, a month later, he releases Childish Prodigy and everyone loses their shit. Last year I went to see Chelsea Light Moving’s first NYC show and the opener was none other than our boy Steve Gunn. “Steve Gunn?” I thought. The name made me think of a thinning haired blond man-child with a penchant for Matchbox Twenty masturbation. This time was different though. I didn’t let the blatant chip on the shoulder ruin discovery. I sat front and center and discovered an incredible songwriter the right and natural way. Since then, I’ve put down the bottle and my mind is opening up again. Perfect time to dig this noise.
So if there’s anything to take away from all of this it’s that you should Google the name Steve Gunn or enter it into Spotify or whatever the fuck you do nowadays and listen to the first song “Water Wheel” and let the record slowly unwind all around you. Lay among the scattered debris and be happy with wherever you are. It could be worse.
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