Y’all know that one of the indie labels I write the most about is Suburban Home Records, another outlaw country-ish label out of Denver, Colorado. They’re home to my beloved Two Cow Garage, which is how I discovered them, and Virgil routinely puts out phenomenal albums that skirt, closely, the line between country and punk that I love so much. Virgil is also a firm adherent to the tenet that everything sounds better on vinyl, and that bands you love should always tour with other bands you love, which gives him two solid thumbs up on all fronts in my book.
Right now, new Suburban Home signees and long-time favorites of mine, Have Gun Will Travel, are touring with Micah Schnabel supporting them in advance of his upcoming solo record, I’m Dead, Serious. HGWT have their SH debut, Mergers & Acquisitions, out 11/1. (You can preorder one of SH’s gorgeous release sets here.) So, in honor, three SH-related releases: HGWT, along with the solo debut from 2CG’s Shane Sweeney (Last Chance Records) and former SH staffer Andy Thomas’s Tin Horn Prayer. Good music; get it.
Shane Sweeney — The Finding Time: Shane’s stuff with 2CG tends towards the upbeat tempo miserable lyrics — “Mediocre” being one of my favorite Two Cow songs — but his solo album really strips all that down, just to his voice and his songwriting, with minimal folky acoustic guitar to guide it along. This is a plus, because sometimes, not intentionally, I forget what a fantastic songwriter Shane Sweeney is. It’s easy to do, though that doesn’t excuse it, since he shares a stage in Two Cow with Micah, who y’all know is probably my favorite songwriter ever; he’s Micah’s foil in Two Cow and that’s a sincerely dismissive way to think of Shane. Tracks like “When I Am Empty” and “Hallelujah”, and his cover of “Motel Blues”, just highlight all the ways that Shane is ungodly talented, scratchy voice and heartbreaking songs that don’t hide behind punk rock drumming.
Have Gun Will Travel — Mergers & Acquisitions: I think that the Florida Americana scene gets a bit of short shrift from the rest of the country, because the bands that play down there don’t tend to tour as heavily as bands from other parts of the country, but HGWT have been a favorite of mine since last year’s Postcards from the Friendly City. They play acoustic indie rock with a straight-up bluegrass flavor and great harmonies, and M&A is no change from that. All their music has a sunny, swampy taste, like they’re channeling Florida straight through the rhythmic guitars and churning drums, even in songs like album opener “Dream No More” (quiet and, well, dreamy) and the stunning quiet heartbreak shuffle of “Disappearing King”. Lead single “To The Victor Go The Spoils” barrels like a freight train — complete with train song harmonica and frantic electric guitar — and it’s an album that will fly under the radar, but HGWT’s songwriting skills and ability to bend genre effortless should be putting them all over the radar.
Tin Horn Prayer — Get Busy Dying: heavy on the twang, heavy on the whiskey-scratch cowpunk vocals, Denver’s Tin Horn Prayer barrels through 10 tracks in 34 minutes on this 2010 release, and it really is barreling. Songs about fucked up relationships and broken hearts and drinking too much, this should appeal to people who love later, more refined (kinder but not gentler!) I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch, I’m not sure how they’re not being talked about in my blogging circles like Two Cow and SOB are. (Ninebullets loves ‘em, though, so that’s something.) The crashing singalong fuck you choruses over the drumming (ugh the drumming is so good) makes this one a real keeper, and gives me real hope that they’ll tour and soon.
Have Gun Will Travel and Shane’s erstwhile guitarist Micah Schnabel will be in Raleigh at Slim’s on Wednesday, September 28. 9:30, I think, and probably $5? I don’t know and I hate Slim’s still using MySpace. Just show up, I promise it’ll be amazing.