Denton, TX’s Baptist Generals make music for people who hate to be asked, “What kind of music do you listen to?” They are as difficult to categorize as the tastes of any real music lover.
The band recorded their latest album, No Silver/No Gold, in a garage, but they are by no means your typical garage band. Chris Flemmons writes and sings heartfelt, poetic lyrics and plays the acoustic guitar, but The Baptist Generals are a far cry from folk music. He plays the acoustic guitar the way it was meant to be played: like a motherfuckin’ drum.
Their music is often bitter, aggressive, even frightening, yet at times completely spiritual. Flemmons’ lyrics are marked by a profound, often dirge-like sadness, but this isn’t fucking emo, folks. And he might sing, with a distinctively Southern accent â€” songs that mention someone getting his “head cut off on the barbed wire” or someone “shooting and drinking” (in that order) â€” but The Baptist Generals sure as fuck ain’t country. Or alt-country. Or any of that stupid shit. Yet their style is distinctively Southern. His haunting, imagistic lyrics are as steeped in the Southern gothic tradition as anything Barry Hannah or Flannery O’Connor ever committed to print. Flemmons’ voice sounds like every great Southern singer from Doc Boggs to Wayne Coyne, but at the same time nothing like either of them, or anyone else for that matter. He’s thirty-three years old, but sings with all the world-weary crankiness of someone who’s seen at least ninety.
The guitar and the percussion are so tightly in sync with one another that it’s hard to tell which one is which. This may be because Flemmons and drummer Steve Hill have been playing together for over eleven years now, ever since Flemmons moved to Denton from his native Ft. Worth. The two began as the Poor Bastard Sons, playing on front porches for beer money, and have been performing as The Baptist Generals since 1998. Their lineup now includes Ryan Williams on bass (who plays a mariachi bass) and following the recording of No Silver/No Gold multi-instrumentalist Jason Reimer, whose electric piano, slide guitar, and Theremin (among other instruments) add whole new dimensions to the band’s music.
The Baptist Generals are from Texas, damn it, a state that gave us
everyone from Steve Earle and Townes Van Zandt to Roky Erickson and The
Butthole Surfers, so they sure as hell ain’t gonna sound like anyone else. It’s good old American indie rock, and you better just go out and buy all their music and see them live as soon as you can so you can say to yourself that you knew about them before anyone else did. Also, they need money for a new transmission. It broke on the first day of their first American tour (with the Mountain Goats and John Vanderslice, no less.)
No, you’re already too late to be the first to know about The Baptist Generals. They are the favorite sons of their native Denton and the first band mentioned in the Dallas/Ft. Worth music scene. And, as it happens with far too many great American bands, even those people over there in Europe found out about them before you did. They’ve toured Europe without incident and to great acclaim. No Silver/No Gold and their previous album Dog have been released by reputable Dutch indie label, Munich Records. But let’s reclaim them for the good old U. S. of A. They’re ours, and they are about the most utterly American band out there, as long as you will agree that Texas is a part of the United States.