THANK YOU – The BAcksliders (Self-released)
When I first saw the BAcksliders do the hoodoo that they do (at a tee-tiny college bar here in Fort Worth, Where the West Begins), I said to myself, “Self, surely this is the most exciting band we’ve seen since the Mooney Suzuki.” And indeed, on this, their third shiny silver disc, the ‘sliders continue to mine the same vein of gritty, sweaty, R&B-derived garage-rock frenzy as the Moonies, with the same gospelish fervor.
Recorded live-in-the-studio in just four days and intended as a no-fooling offering of gratitude from these hard-working Dallasites to their fans, "Thank You" is 10 songs in 22 minutes, available as a free download from their website. That’s no reflection on its quality, however.
The big story here remains the dirty-mama vox of ex-Vibrolux chanteuse Kim Bonner (no longer Pendleton; sorry fellas, she’s married). Her tortured tonsils carry the day on the self-explanatory “Soul,” the witty “Maybellene Don’t” (the set’s best song, whose self-sufficient protagonist is “a hairdresser with an interest in photography;” the punch line is that she “don’t take requests from bands”), and the cover of Little Richard’s “Keep a Knockin’.”
The secret ingredient is still Kim’s hubby, guitarist-songwriter Chris Bonner’s songwriting talent. Chris’ ’78 Elvis Costello-inspired pop sense rules the roost on “Last Call” (dig his McManus-like second vox), the Shangri-Las homage “Twisted,” and “Things,” with its chiming power pop guitars. Echoes abound -- the New York Dolls in the opening riff to “Reach of Fame,” the New Christs in the one on “Bitter Days” – but Kim remains resolutely Her Own Woman. And Chris remains the best unheralded songsmith in all of indie rockdom. You owe it to yourself to pick up on this.- Ken Shimamoto
YOU’RE WELCOME – THe BAcksliders (Self-released)
The new album by Dallas band THe BAcksliders fairly explodes out of the gate with “You’re Gonna Miss Me” (no, not that one; this here’s a different batch of Texans), Taylor Young thrashing and bashing and filling maniacally at every opportunity as though Keith Moon were the only other drummer who ever existed. For this, their sophomore shiny silver disc, Chris Bonner and Kim Pendleton have managed to capture more of their live show’s electric energy than they were able to harness on their self-titled debut disc, and they also raise the stakes with their songwriting – the solid underpinning without which all their onstage sass and swagger would be just so much sound ‘n’ fury, signifying nada. Make no mistake, kids: this is a pop rekkid, albeit one with fangs and claws, chockfull of no-fooling memorable/hummable toons.
Guitar-slinger Bonner’s a songwriter whose tuneage is reminiscent of Elvis Costello’s in the way it draws from different musics – country, soul, and Brill Building pop. His chanteuse wife puts ‘em across with a classic set of pipes that’s part Patsy Cline, part Mary Weiss. (Perhaps realizing where his band’s strengths lie, Bonner 86’d his own Costello-like voxxx for this record.) The band – stripped down and simple, no-frills guitar-bass-drums -- always maintains a high Rawk quotient, kinda like the Mooney Suzuki when they first hit, but less cartoon-like, and way sexier. The 'proximate model, then, becomes something like “Wanda Jackson fronting the Attractions,” minus the silly Farfisa: fundamentals only, please.
Thus, second song on the disc “Typically I Don’t Mind” opens with a George Harrison slide guitar fillip before double-tracked Kim makes her entrance, harmonizing with herself like a one-woman Shangri-Las (a recurring theme here) over Taylor’s propulsive bash ‘n’ thump. “Wedding Day” boasts a jumpy, minimal beat and Beatlesque melody, with Chris’ guitar slashing away on the two and four. “I Got Mine” could really be a femme-sung outtake from Armed Forces.
You’re Welcome is paced like a good live set, and so THe BAcksliders are halfway through it before they slow things down with the “Pass On All Your Fears,” an R&B ballad that Kim sings with a soulful rasp in her voice. “Fat Girls” sounds like the single here, possessing more hooks per minute than yer average rock song; Taylor Young definitely wins “Album MVP” honors on the merits of his stickwork on this track alone. “Love Field” (that’s the Dallas airport JFK flew into on November 22, 1963, kids) is a Beatlesque confection with piano by Nathan Adamson. The band’s countryish side, so evident on their debut, finally rears its head near the end of thisun, on the wistful acoustic “Someone Has Broken.” After a couple more rockers, things close with “Cry,” another ballad in the grand old style that has Kim emoting over a bolero beat. Short and sweet: 13 songs in 33 minutes and change, all killer with no filler.
Check ‘em out. Cop via www.thebacksliders.com. - Ken Shimamoto
THE BACKSLIDERS – THe BAcksliders (Self-released)
Dallas-based garage-rootsy rawkers THe BAcksliders (who presumably use eccentric capitalization to distinguish themselves from the godzillion other bands who share the same appellation, including an Aussie bluesband, a North Carolina alt-country outfit, and a crew of like-minded French badasses) have been a band since 2006. Their main asset is singer Kim Pendleton (ex-Vibrolux, ex-Lithium Xmas), who combines pipes (think Patsy Cline crossed with Lone Justice-era Maria McKee and the Detroit Cobras’ Rachel Nagy) with presence while fronting a tough, tight, taut trio led by her husband Chris Bonner on guitar and voxxx. They’re a 30something white Texas Ike ’n’ Tina whose knee-droppin’, high-kickin’ stage show puts out the energy of an R&B review – even when Pendleton was within weeks of delivering their first baby last year.
They’ve also got good songs, which on this shiny silver disc, recorded fairly early in their existence, seem a lot closer to the Gram Parsons/Uncle Tupelo inspahrd “y’allternative” sound that was popular here in these United States a few years back than exposure to THe BAcksliders’ stage show might lead one to expect.
Bonner’s affinity for Elvis Costello is evident not just on those tracks where he sings lead (dig “Promises,” which could be an Almost Blue outtake), but in the way his compositions seamlessly integrate R&B, country, and pop influences (as on “If You Could Wait,” sung by Pendelton).
The stripped-down production here serves them well – on the Stax-styled ballad “The Sun Shines On My Face,” which a “real” producer would have slathered in horns in case anybody missed the point, as well as Bar-style rawkers like “Potential Future Selves” and “Get It Down.”
They’ve got a new CD in the works, as well as a live DVD that you can cop (like this disc) by hitting ‘em up at firstname.lastname@example.org or at their Myspace. No matter how you write it, it’s a winnah. - Ken Shimamoto
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