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Backyard Tire Fire

Vagabonds and Hooligans

(OIE; US: 6 Feb 2007; UK: Available as import)

Fuel for the Fire

Backyard Tire Fire is one of those bands that you just hate.  Not because they’re terrible, but because they’re a band so unique, distinct, amazing and talented that you get frustrated about them getting ignored by the mainstream again and again.  Adding fuel to the fire is Vagabonds and Hooligans, another alt-country/bare-bones-rock affair that is proudly recorded analog-only.  Critics peg the band anywhere between the Violent Femmes to Uncle Tupelo, but here the band sounds like prime-era Ryan Adams: not indulgent or pretentious, but making music specifically for the back porches of America’s heartland.  “Downtime” may have been written solely to make Lynyrd Skynyrd proud, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  The fact that they can go from that to the aching, wounded pop of “The Wrong Hand” at the switch of a hat makes the album all the more impressive, with Ed Anderson’s lyrics ranging from blindingly poetic to simple yet heartfelt (particularly on the beautifully lazy closer “It’s a Good Night”).  Yet, on the obvious radio-snagging track “Tom Petty”, Anderson pulls off a remarkable feat: when he sings about simply wanting to be a star, he does so without a trace of pomposity—and in that moment, you want to do everything you can to help him achieve it.


Evan Sawdey started contributing to PopMatters in late 2005, and has also had his work featured in publications such as SLUG Magazine, The Metro (U.K.), Soundvenue Magazine (Denmark), the Daily Dot, and many more. Evan has been a guest on HuffPost Live, RevotTV's "Revolt Live!", and WNYC's Soundcheck (an NPR affiliate), was the Executive Producer for the Good With Words: A Tribute to Benjamin Durdle album, and wrote the liner notes for the 2011 re-release of Andre Cymone's hit 1985 album A.C. (Big Break Records), the 2012 re-release of 'Til Tuesday's 1985 debut Voices Carry (Hot Shot Records), and many others. He currently resides in Chicago, Illinois. You can follow him @SawdEye should you be so inclined.

Backyard Tire Fire - Crack Alley [Live at Schubas]
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