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Chris Mills

Living in the Aftermath

(Ernest Jenning; US: 22 Apr 2008; UK: Available as import)

Chicago songwriter Chris Mills has been around for a decade or so, alternating his sensitive, guitar-man ballads with kicking, rocking countrified romps. These latter songs are way more fun, and it’s good to see him delivering a passel of them in Living in the Aftermath.  “Atom Smashers” is clearly the best, a biting indictment of poseurs and criminals, from Hitler and Tojo, all the way down to the Gitmo softball team.  “All’s Well That Ends” is almost as good, a horn-charging, piano-banging rampage through rock and Americana territories. The title cut swaggers and struts through a country mile of political metaphors, swaying slightly in a headwind of drunken fiddle, banjo and organ. Mills is backed on this and other cuts by a cracking band—David Nagler on piano and organ, Silos regulars Drew Glackin and Konrad Meissner in the rhythm section and Bloodshot resident pedal steel genius Jon Rauhouse sitting in. The slower songs—“Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” and “Such a Beautiful Thing”—are pretty enough, but feel a little diluted, like just adding water to Okkervil River. Still if you like a little political acumen and dry humor with your Saturday night wreckage, the hard-living, whiskey swilling rock songs on this album are just the ticket.

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