New Vinyl from Saustex
Churchwood are back. After a much-heralded self-titled debut CD, they’re back with this special edition 7 inch vinyl record, Just the Two of Us. But, don’t worry if you don’t have a turntable: when you buy the 7 inch, it comes with a card that you can use to download all four cuts on the vinyl edition to your PC, thereby making it accessible to those who lack a turntable (funny how 30-40 years ago things would be the other way around – everyone would have a turntable and the bonus downloadings would’ve been seen as a real novelty.
On this release, entitled Just the Two of Us, Churchwood comes at you with their brand of full-tilt punk-rock/psychobilly. If you want a comparison, well, think of a cross between The Cramps and The Blasters.
Lone Star Music calls Just the Two of Us “Dangerous, foreboding, in-your-face…” and this Austin, TX-based band is expanding its reach, slowly but surely. The tracks on this EP are infectious, mutations of Southern white-boy blues; in fact, I’d say that it is even rawer and more savage than their eponymous, full-length debut CD, in that vein, another blurb is worth mentioning: the Santa Fe, New Mexican writes, in regard to this EP that “[Churchwood] take the essence of primitive blues and mutate[s] it into something new…” and also, Punk Globe calls Churchwood the “Crazy, thinking man’s blues band”.
Churchwood’s music is an olio of sounds, rich in influences and traits. You can hear some of their crawling out of the Mississippi Delta blues sounds and infusing it with psychobilly, sludgy rock ‘n’ roll (Melvins, Mudhoney, etc), even Captain Beefheart seems to be an influence as well.
Lead singer Joe Doerr is not just a crafty songwriter, but is also a published poet! In Churchwood, Doerr is accompanied by terrific musicians with talent: the trippy abandon with which twin guitarists Bill Anderson and Billysteve Korpi bend, crunch and make their guitars moan and cry do great justice to the wrought out lyrics of Joe Doerr, swirling around his edgy voice, both paralleling him and complementing his voice. Of course, Churchwood wouldn’t be Churchwood without the incredible rhythm section: drummer Julien Peterson and bassist Adam Kahan both lend a booming background that keeps the time alive and also, occasionally riff out on their own.
20 years ago Bill Anderson and Joe Doerr had played together in a couple legendary Texas bands, Ballad Shambles and Hand of Glory. So, what’s been going on in between for all these years? Well, as was mentioned, Doerr got his poetry thing finessed and is now published and takes delight in penning more and more when he can. As for Bill Anderson, he rambled back and forth, jamming in such diverse-sounding bands as The Horsies, The Meat Purveyors and Cat Scientist. And – he also sat in on some sessions with the legendary Daniel Johnston. So, these guys are no youngsters and no Johnny-come-latelies either.
As for Just the Two of Us, it’s got four tracks on it: four mean, lean raw, bones: “Message From Firmin Desloge”, “Metanoia”, “Weedeye” and “Rickshaw Rattletrap”.
From the get-go, Churchwood let loose and play like there’s no tomorrow, with reckless abandon and fueled-up fervor. But don’t let that belie the fact that these cats are intelligent. They are not just some dumb hicks from down South, no they’ve got a good handle on the bohemian, hip literary references and the like, e.g., “Rimbaud Didley” and “Ulysses”, both from their debut. So, let’s hear it for these Austin dudes who not only can bring the house down, but get pleasure from less destructive means as well. –KM
Besides my receiving a rarity – an EP of sorts on good old fashioned vinyl – from Austin, TX-based Churchwood I received at the same time, another 7-inch vinyl EP (four songs) from another Texas band, Chief Fuzzer. This one is entitled Transcendental Road Blues. It’s also being released from Austin’s great indie label: Saustex Media. Just as with the Churchwood 7-incher – Just the Two of Us – Chief Fuzzer’s 7-inch EP contains a card inside the package with the URL to go to and a code one puts in that allows one to download the entire 5-song EP onto one’s PC.
This one’s got more of a rock spine to it, as opposed to the bluesy, psychobilly, raw steely emotion. The first two tracks are the main ones that are listed on the back of the vinyl EP: “500 Lb. Badass” and “Bad She Gone Voodoo”. But there are also three other great tracks on here: “Fuzzer Theme”, the title track (“Transcendental Road Blues”) and one called “Whight”. After giving it a couple listens, I’d have to say that the title track is the most rockin’ track. It’s got a somewhat slowed-down tempo, but still a grinding, psychedelic-tinged edge to it. The guitars both chug-chug-chug along as well as, in certain points, climb to higher degrees of altitude, soaring, swinging and then veering off and changing course, finally coming back to its rhythmic duties. At 5:10, it’s the longest cut on the album, but, being so great a song, the time doesn’t really matter, as it just flies by and leaves the listener wanting more, more, MORE! The final cut, “Whight” is a good place to end on as well as the perfect follow-up for the just mentioned title track. It has a little bit of a Black Sabbath vibe to it – a slowed, heavy metal dirge. But they stay consistent throughout and don’t get caught up in a fever pitch, so don’t take the “heavy metal” thing too literally.
Cody Richardson, who both sings and plays guitar, does an excellent job on the axe. He may not have the most operatic voice in the world – but hey, it’s only rock ‘n’ roll, right? He really shines, though, on the guitar and the undertones he lays down as well as the solo piercings and crying sure do shine. Being a trio, Chief Fuzzer rely on just Cody to get the job done on guitar and he comes through with flying colors. But as far as the other two – the rhythm section, you certainly can’t complain – drummer Paul Adams plays a mean set of skins, keeping time with a bombastic, rock-oriented (as opposed to the all-over-the-place jazz styles), seemingly simple fashion but when you see that he’s got to be the anchor then you appreciate his edgy, not flashy way of keeping things glued together. Bassist Shane Herring is also a great leg of this three-legged stool – he complements Cody’s more simmering, hot & spicy solos, by keeping things grounded and when Cody’s just trying to keep a riff flowing, when he’s singing, for example, then Shane is there as a double-threat, a deeper, thundering bass to accompany the taxiing guitar.
You’re going to really want to check this out – whether or not you’re a fan of Texas-style “psychobilly”, psychedelic-tinged rockabilly, or fire & brimstone, liquor-fueled rants that can seem over the top, but have a hell of a fun time doing it, you’ll see that Chief Fuzzer transcends (no pun intended) all those stereotypes, while still managing to stay in the same realm somehow. Listening to Transcendental Road Blues, it’s easy to hear how these guys would be welcomed wherever a crowd that wants to rock is – whether it’s at the Continental Club in Austin, First Avenue in Minneapolis, Café Metro in Chicago or CBGB/OMFUG in NYC, Chief Fuzzer will fit in anywhere.