By: Sarah Hagerman
Records are playing and all my favorites are sayin
The first things that come to their minds
Like there's dishes that need washin'
And teeth that need flossin'
And the brakes on the Ford are starting to grind.
What's more and more striking about Backyard Tire Fire's fourth studio album, The Places We Lived (Hyena Records), in its repeat spins is the matter-of-fact moments, such as the one above from "Rainy Day (Don't Go Away)." Culling genuine inspiration from common life, Backyard Tire Fire walk in the mud, appreciating the delightful squish, while simultaneously getting pissed off at the stuck car and anticipating the angry boss waiting for lateness excuses at their shit job. Maybe it's got something to do with its lessons being gleaned from factory floors and dive bar stools rather than art school dorms and loft parties, but this album comes in like a fresh gust, leaping out in strangleholds of old school rock-for-rock's-sake. But, there are moments of delicacy a-plenty that throw fractured sunlight on the blue collar rumble, such as the waltzing meter of "Rainy Day," the backing vocals sighing "ah" during the title track, the plaintive piano that gives way to richly fluttering strings on closer "Home Today."
Like Craig Finn and Patterson Hood, BTF's Ed Anderson brings lyrical literacy back to everyman and everywoman rock 'n' roll. Just check out the assonance in the rowdy "How in the Hell did you Get Back Here?":
I remember when we were trashed at your last bash
Said you nearly spent your stash and ran out of cash
Gone in a flash away from the past a new innocence
Startin' anew in a city of blue
But you can never really start over; there's always baggage that stays with you, that draws you back to the towns you say you'll leave time and time again. As I make my New Year's resolutions, pieces of past mistakes, regrets and embarrassments hang on. We all look towards redemption at this time of year, while realizing that lofty perfection is a damn, daunting lie. While the inherently stubborn wheel spinning of ruts informs much of the atmosphere on Places, the spirit is in the small, sizzling snapshots. Every day is a thousand tiny moments of beauty, a thousand minor paper cuts. Hope, sadness, regret and comfort stick in confined spaces while we gather these flashes. As we go into this new year facing down the darkness, keep in mind the smart simplicity as Anderson paints it in "Rainy Day" - "Cold coffee, warm cigarettes" and eyes turned outward to the rain on the window, ears soaking in vinyl crackling from a well-loved turntable.
JamBase | Hanging On
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