Beta Music

The Alcohol EPs [Silber, 2002]

from Beta Music

The song book about alcohol runneth over. Through the ages, artists and musicians have sought the spirit as lubricant and muse, extolling its faithfulness as a pick-me-up, and weeping over its slippery treachery. Nick Lowe mooned about Milk And Alcohol, Doc Pomus cleverly nicknamed it “the Doctor” in Send for the Doctor, John Lee Hooker wailed over its disinhibiting effect on Mad Man Blues.

The Alcohol EPs are a slightly different kettle of fish. A trio of EPs by three young emerging musicians, its overall mood is funereal and somber. You’re not going to get any revelry and carousing here.

The first set of songs comes from Remora aka Brian John Mitchell. Favoring feverish one-chord guitar strumming, Remora’s songs trap desperation and hopelessness, clinging to these emotions like a mad man clutches his Old Testament. If a title like I Told Jesus Christ How Much I Love Her was intended to be funny, the rest aren’t, they’re downright scary. Oblivion, Joy Division, First Call, Hope Is Gone are all dark vehicles.

But Jon DeRosa’s Pale Horse and Rider allows some sweet relief to creep in, thankfully. He departs from his old work with experimental project Aarktica, injecting folky, country-tinged Americana into his song arrangements, and invoking, at times, a pared-down Son Volt. Bruises Like Badges is the best song out of the four gems he contributes.

The final young guitarist is Nathan Amundson, an Alaskan who now lives in Duluth, Minnesota. Amundson tasted minor fame as Rivulets when his debut album was picked up by minimalist folk trio Low. Over quiet acoustic guitar and whispery vocals, Amundson comes across like a ragged young Elliott Smith. His Your Light and How It Shined is an example of his prodigious talent.

If you drink, don’t drive. Let someone else do it. Also, for goodness’ sake, take this spooky CD out of your car stereo.

Lee Chung Horn, Beta Music

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