B. Hamilton Photos and Reviews

Every part of this album is a little piece of organized chaos that comes together in a joyous expression of pure energy. Never showy but never lack-luster, these three guys create a wall of sound that is raw and energetic, yet never feels contrived. The journey that they take you on feels free-flowing and natural, even as they jump from country to rock or blues to soul. Beginning with the punk-rock intensity of “Me and Margaret Counting Countdowns” and ending with the hauntingly beautiful “Oakland and Anaheim (Ain’t Divided by the 5 Tonight),” this album is defined by changes that seem spontaneous yet work so well they are dumbfounding.

Surpisingly melodic underneath all the bravado this band taps into the darker niches of classic rock and guitar loving indie acts that like to push their amps and shit to the limit. Stand-out track Miss Carolina is augmented with a great bottleneck guitar on top of the in-your-face kick drum. It’s not all loud as fuck. Oakland and Anaheim (Ain’t Divided by the 5 Tonight) is a solo acoustic showcase for Parks, singing about youngsters that have been gunned down by the police.

Jesus, listening to this record is like looking at the Grand Canyon, really… it takes several listens to fully absorb it. “Everything I Own Is Broken” is vast and complex, yet gentle and comforting and wise in ways that I’ve already blown over a thousand trying to explain. Halfway through 2012, this brilliant collection of songs is amongst my top three favorites of the year thus far.

…a monstrous piece of rock ‘n’ roll. It begins with a sharp guitar chord, which snarls over Crowley’s ride cymbal in a web of distortion and feedback. The drums are murky but the beat is tense and fast, and Macey’s guitar riffs are as immediately catchy as anything you’d find in the pop music canon. Parks sings in a forceful, mid-range tenor, drawling on the verses and unleashing a loud yowl on all the crescendos. His singing voice is so evocative that it’s hard to connect it with the Ryan Christopher Parks who drivels poop humor all over Facebook.

Try standout track “Turn Out The Lights” for some foot-stomping bass-heavy rock (and forget about the Black Keys for awhile).

Keeping in with the blues root which semi-defines much of the album, there are the inevitable tales of liquor, loose women and brushes with the law. ‘Miss Carolina’ is a sleazy, seductive number – part Delta blues, part Blue Velvet. The gentler, more reflective ‘Gold Tooth’ is a surprisingly tender portrait of a former lover, scored with beautifully layered violin tracks. The heart-felt ‘Between the Gutters and The Ballrooms’ vaguely resembles the late Jeff Buckley at his most tolerable. Secreted towards the end of the album, ‘Oakland and Anaheim (Ain’t Divided by the 5 Tonight)’ is a brutally stark acoustic requiem for victims of Police shootings in California. The song cites both the slaying of Oscar Grant in Oakland and the mistaken-identity shooting of Parks’ sometime friend Julian Alexander in Anaheim, both of whom died at the hands of Law Enforcement Officers. Accompanied by only his guitar and with a voice positively brimming with contempt, Parks tells the tale of two men united by the ultimate futility of their deaths. The consciously incorporated background noise is an effective piece of audio vérité, gradually becoming part of the composition as the song draws to a world-weary conclusion. It’s a powerful finale for an album which is an early certainty for inclusion on any best-of lists at the end of the year.