Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Train Singer's Song

Little contemporary mope-along yee haw today.

What to do with Howe Gelb? His catalogue reads as intriguing as Bob Pollard's and Billy Childish's. Not so much in sheer amount of songs, nor in style, but in cussedness, amount of albums, and use of moniker. It's hard to keep track of Gelb's side projects, much less his (relatively) full-time gig as Giant Sand.

I've referenced the phrase "burnt desert music" before, and Gelb (along with fellow cactus firestarters Joey Burns and John Convertino) seems to be the picture in the dictionary. His sandblasted voice adds the slow, claustrophobic, blaze to the arid expanse of sounds surrounding him (I believe he still makes his home in Arizona). It takes a side-project, or twenty, to channel the wandering wonderer within.

Gelb's always been a little of both kinds of music, country and western, and he goes full-bore desert tonkin' with his alter ego, The Band of Blacky Ranchette. Featuring varieties of the alt-country cream in Richard Buckner, Neko Case, M. Ward, Kurt Wagner, and Dallas Good of the Sadies, Still Lookin' Good to Me is a hazy drawl of a C&W album. Creaking along mesa-spiked roads past ghost trains and forgotten spirits, Gelb and his cohorts kick up the dust on the creaky boards of forgotten taverns set far back from the highway.

"Train Singer's Song" is a last will and testament. And in "Getting It Made", Neko Case and Richard Buckner play John Prine and Iris Dement, in a call and response of desperation and grit.

Hoo haw.

The Band of Blacky Ranchette: The Train Singer's Song(mp3)

The Band of Blacky Ranchette (with Neko Case and Richard Buckner): Getting It Made (mp)

Check out your local independent retailers.


John said...

I wish I didn't have "Getting it Made," so I could discover it here.

the gooch said...

think I am probably the only one on the planet right now who thinks this, but to me even gelb's 'minor' stuff does circles around calexico's offerings. But what do i know about fashion?

Anonymous said...

you forgot to mention that the ever prolific Gelb has many incarnations besides blacky ranchette, giant sand and his name of the newer forms is due out any day as the Arizona Amp and the Alternator...someone posted the songs a week ago...somewhere in the blogsphere....i believe it was a ricky lee jones cover.