True West: Hollywood Holiday Revisited (Atavistic)
A lot of bands have been lost to history, and sadly one of them is True West, one of the pillars of the short lived but geek-loved early '80s West Coast psych resurgence known as the Paisley Underground. Today, True West is largely unknown outside of black-fingered record collectors who still wax poetic about Translator and Guadalcanal Diary. Pity since True West stirred a cool, fine-edged, nostalgia free swirl that contemporary recyclers like The Killers and Bloc Party are just stumbling upon now. This reissue gathers together the Hollywood Holiday mini-LP (co-produced by TW guitarist Russ Tolman and Dream Syndicate's Steve Wynn), full-length Drifters and a trio of fine Tom Verlaine produced demos. Led by the dashingly monochromatic ennui of singer Richard McGrath, the urgency and wildfire creative twitch of young men is evident throughout. These thoroughly engaging platters are a pleasant reminder that the '80s weren't all hairspray, chrome and neon after all. (DC)
The Hotdamns!: Vanquished (self-released)
Blasting out with a classic Bakersfield chug full of vibrantly strummed guitars and boy-girl back-and-forth vocals, Richmond, Virginia's The Hotdamns! offer more pure enjoyment in under two minutes than most of Nashville can muster on a whole album. Better still, they follow the opener with the grandly titled "Yankee By Birth (Southern at Heart)," a slow burner full of twinkling piano, sighing organ, mournful pedal steel and honeysuckle sweet singing by Danielle Ahart, who croons with the womanly warmth of Jessi Coulter and Loretta Lynn. Ahart is especially stirring on the spare folk-gospel jewel "Poor Laurie" which flows seamlessly into the title tune, a sweeping bit of heartache worthy of Neko Case. While just an introductory EP, every element is rock solid, from the spacious production to the tears-in-your-beer mood. If you know what a Nudie Suit is or sigh a little that Gram Parsons and Buck Owens aren't with us anymore then you'll love this band. (DC)
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