My turkey for Thanksgiving last year and every year on out has been and shall forever be a deep fried turkey from this great smokehouse/breakfast place out on fabled Highway 61 which courses through the veins of my town. It is such a divine feast, like the most giantest delicious chicken nugget ever, your turkey dripping with life-affirming grease and deliciousness. Vitamin G. Plus instead of having an all-day pissing match at the oven door about bastings and stuffing and whatnot, which usually results in self-righteousness and dry bird, you get to stand in line with a cross section of the Dirty South, all salivating at the prospect of what is before them.
I bring this up because I want to share this delicacy with all for whom thanks is due, so I am contemplating sending one to the Oldham family for all the fine music they have provided to me over the years. At the head of their table is Will Oldham AKA Bonnie Prince Billy, of whose music my ardent fanboyishness has ascended into practically a lifestyle choice. But while he occupies many a spotlight in my heart, it's his brothers around the table, often the music masters that form the other half of the Prince experience, that deserve equal portions of this bird.
Elder Oldham boy Ned is the brainchild behind the neo-Classic rock armada with the superbly difficult moniker the Anomoanon, a name I've heard botched from every mouth that bespoke it. (From an interview I read, its supposed to rhyme with "Phenomenon" if that helps.) The Anomoanon has been inflating their own Zeppelin dutifully over the years through a variety of phases and guises (I guess that runs in the family) to come to this festival stage-ready rock explosion. They have the trappings of various rock dinosaurs, like Grateful Dead harmonies, Heart like guitar expositions, Led Zeppelin style locomotion, all reflected through an indie rock filter, not unlike 2003's band-to-save-the-world My Morning Jacket. The murky production on it reminds me of VU's self-titled third album, where the whole thing sounds immediate in your head, not like you are hearing it but remembering it.
The groove dirge "Down and Brown" slowly gets this train rolling setting the pendulum swinging for the majestic lullaby-into-boogie "Leap Alone" where you are struck how much Ned sounds like his younger brother, but with a stronger voice. The VU resemblance is even more marked on "Mr. Train" with one of the better mellow fuzz guitar solos put to record in years. This is not that album to drop on your hipster rock posse, but on the classic rock stalwart who hangs on with you even though you choice in music is categorically yet indefinably "weird' to him/her. Not that this is some throwback Screamin' Cheetah Wheelies time warp victim band. The lighter worthy ballad "Green Sea" and acoustic tangle ramble of "After Than Before" are set to qualify as "now that's good music" to your less-than-updated fellow traveler, but they are also fresh and insightful and groovy examinations of the rock thing.
Every post-Skynyrd must have their "Free Bird" so the nearly 10 minute "Wedding Song" fits that role here, transmogrifying from loping Neil style country-ish ballad slowly to a guitar wizard battle on the fields of time. Or timelessness. This is just great timeless rock, carefully avoiding trappings that would push it over the edge into parody.
Let's run it through testing: Would it sound great if you are high? Check. Will it rock in the CD player of your new minivan hard enough to make you momentarily forget you just bought a new minivan? Check. Is it mellow enough to get a hippie chick to do that sway dance, should the situation arise? Check. Is it indie-approved enough that you won't be embarrassed having it on your CD rack when the cool police show up at your door for a surprise hipness inspection, unlike, say, a Boston CD? Check. That's good enough for me. Here you go, Ned; I saved a leg for you.
Alex V. Cook listens to everything and writes about most of it. His latest book, the snappily titled Louisiana Saturday Night: Looking for a Good Time in South Louisiana's Juke Joints, Honky-Tonks, and Dance Halls is an odyssey from the backwoods bars and small-town dives to the swampside dance halls and converted clapboard barns of a Louisiana Saturday Night. Don't leave Heathrow without it. His first book Darkness Racket and Twang is available from SideCartel. The full effect can be had at alex v cook.com
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