Dave Goddess Group recently released a new single and video for the title track of their new EP, called Last of the West Side Cowboys, slated to drop February 23.
There’s a true story behind the song. On the West Side of New York, freight trains trundled up and down 10th Avenue moving goods to and from the Meatpacking District. Pedestrians were often struck by the trains, so much so that the area was called “Death Avenue.” In 1850, the city passed a law creating the West Side Cowboys, a.k.a. 10th Avenue Cowboys, who warned pedestrians of oncoming trains both day and night. The final ride of the last West Side Cowboy occurred in 1941.
In the song, Goddess tells the story of the last rider leading the last train. “In a way, the song is as much about obsolescence and men losing their jobs because times are changing,” he says. “These themes still ring true today.”
The Dave Goddess Group is made up of Dave Goddess on lead vocals, guitars, and harmonica; Tom Brobst on keyboards, flute, and sax; Mark Buschi on bass and backup vocals; Chris Cummings on drums; and Gary Gipson on guitars and backup vocals. The band’s sound is “raw, rough, and ready rock [and] roll.”
“Last of the West Side Cowboys” opens with a sharp-edged harmonica and muscular guitars that ride a visceral rock melody reminiscent of Bruce Springsteen full of dominant, compactly textured energy. I love the steely tones of the harmonica wailing above the pulsing rhythm, giving the tune a remote nuance of gorgeous sonic tarnish. Goddess’ voice ripples with reckless colors, as well as surging tumescent passion. There’s a rich, gruff, rasping edge to it that projects a fervent urgency. It’s a great rock and roll voice: evocative, proximate, and alluringly voluptuous.
On the chorus, scruffy, chafing vocal harmonies provide the tune with a yummy ragged-edged sonority flowing and moving to the emotion of the music; they add tones crucial to the gutsy feel of the song.
The video, directed by Kevin Goddess, depicts images of the band playing in a large empty room and contains frequent cuts to Goddess singing in the train yards. The clips of old steam trains, combined with footage of scenes from bygone days, present a powerful representation of a way of life now departed. The juxtaposition of color and black and white enhances the transport and temperament of the video, highlighting the difference between old and new.
“Last of the West Side Cowboys” is simply marvelous. The melody rumbles and rolls along with egregious dynamism, while the rhythm vibrates with a pulsing irresistible pattern. Goddess’ grating voice magnifies the electrical sparkle of the music. All these elements combined make “Last of the West Side Cowboys” one of the best songs I’ve reviewed so far, which means you don’t want to miss the EP.