For the independent Texas Music lover on your Christmas list, the good news is that there is a plethora (“would you say I have a plethora of them?”) of great choices out there. The one I’m going to pick out for you here is not necessarily my favorite — I couldn’t make that choice with a gun to my head. But it’s by far the one I’m the most happy about. It’s the Thrift Store Cowboys new one, The Great American Desert.
I’ve been knowing these lop-eared pups for something like two years, when they showed up at one of the music festivals, packed into a durn U-Haul moving van. About 20 kids from Lubbock piled out of that van, and promptly started charming the hell out of a bunch of hot, dusty, boozed-up rednecks. Somewhere amidst that gaggle of piercings and belly shirts and wacky hair-dos were six raw but awesome musicians who, when their turn came, proceeded to just tear up the stage. Their energy was, of course, youthful, and that came through in their songs, and it infected most everybody who was there. Everything they did was original, and best of all, everything they did was good. Not just well-played good (which it was well-played, don’t misunderstand) — well-written…well-arranged…whatever you music types call it. “Good” was good enough for me. So I bought their first CD and pretty much burned through it over the last two years. It hasn’t left the visor CD holder in that truck for that two years, and there’s not another CD I can say that about.
Well, The Wife pops in last Friday with a throw-off question – “Oh, by the way…I’ve got the Thrift Store Cowboys new CD. Wanna hear it?” Ummm….HELL YES!!! So she drags it out of her car, and I immediately start listening to it. Weird fact #1: I know all these songs. Nothing sounds new — but DING! I’ve seen them play live probably 10 times in the last couple of years, and they’ve been working these into their sets and sharpening them up before they went into the studio. Probably the best way to pick what songs you want to put down on vinyl (plastic?) for posteritiy — work it out in front of real, live audiences; see what they like; see what you like playing; makes sense to me.
Un-weird Fact #1: the album surpasses my wildest hopes for the band. I feared the sophomore jinx, and that didn’t happen here. TSC have really done an awesome job on this. There are minor quibbles I have with it, like the mixing — I think it sounds kind of muddy and low, but I’ve been playing it on a damn PC or a stock truck CD player AND I’ve been listening to it with some abused 43 year old ears. But, the bottom line here is that they’ve captured the essence of not just their sound, but their Texas roots, most importantly their West Texas roots. Colt’s pickin’ and Amanda’s fiddlin’ are just plain soulful — it’s great late-night, driving-down-a-dark-highway, blanket-of-stars, coyote-howlin’, Marfa-lights spooky country rock — does that make sense to anyone? If it does, then you know what I mean.
So, anyway — go get the CD. It’s available at the utterly invaluable LoneStarMusic.com, and they have samples of all the songs on the album for that doofy Windows Media Player. They also carry TSC’s first album, so get that, too, if you ain’t got it already.
To entice you even further, provided you’ve read this far, I’m hosting a full MP3 version of one of the songs off the CD, “Pictures”, over at the Tiny Bidness website (no one wants to go camping in December, so I’ve got oodles of bandwidth to burn.) I’ll leave it up for a while, as long as the traffic doesn’t burn down the server. And I got full permission from the band to put this up, too, so don’t be busting my chops. Just get the album, babies. Of course, no album can compare with seeing these yootful Texicans live (not IMnotsoHO). They really rock it all out live. So get out there and go see them — you won’t regret it. You’ll be knocked out, I promise. And you’ll be supporting independent music, something you want to do anyway, right?
For those in the Dallas area, they’re playing Dec. 19th at the All-Good Cafe, down in that Deep Ellum. I imagine that I shall make that show. Say the secret word (crawdad), and I’ll stand ye to a Shiner (Bock, not Light).