Published May 13, 2015
In numerous ways this is a pure blues/rock album, but the lyrics throughout are sharp, witty and personal/political. It’s easy to pull out any number of Bart Cameron’s pithy phrases: “You wanted a fight, alright you got a fight / But this machine don’t kill fascists so I brought dynamite” (“Sons And Daughters Of The Molly Maguires”); “If I had $400, I would buy me a freezer full of steak / What do you do with the money you make? You show me your arm. You spent $400 on a picture of a snake” (“400 Dollars”); the entire story of “If You Can’t Get Lucky Please Get Up.”
This to-the-bone realism is framed brilliantly by crunchy blues guitars and great arrangements that include a top-class, sad-eyed bass clarinet, accordion, harmonica and even “pots and pans.” Make no mistake, this is a very well-constructed set of songs by a group on top form. And the surprises keep coming. Just when it looks like the band’s about to sign off with the fairly straightforward, poetic blues of “This Murder Won’t Hurt You,” they throw a major curveball with the psychedelic odd loveliness of “Alfred the Elephant.” In one dimension, it’s a kind of love song between a disembodied pachyderm and his followers. Another interpretation is that the elephant is the narrator’s depression. Either way, there ought to be more songs about elephants. Elephants are fucking great.
And this record is too.