[8 November 2011]
Recently, Zachary Houle praised Birmingham, Alabama’s the Great Book of John with words that likened them to the American Radiohead. “Have you ever wondered what Radiohead might sound like if they were a country-rock outfit? Now, sure, Wilco has already been called the American Radiohead, thanks in no large part to the experimental and sonically challenging Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, but they have nothing on Birmingham, Alabama’s the Great Book of John – a band that takes the paranoia and widescreen open spaces of the British group and pushes it directly and convincingly into straight Americana.” That’s an especially high compliment given that the band’s self-titled August release is their second long-player and not an album number five in a lengthy career.
The band is led by guitarist and songwriter Taylor Shaw, who drapes these big tunes in wide sheathes of cinematic sound, while underpinning such expansive music with careful attention to lyrical detail. This new video of “Simple Things” directed by Robert Burroughs is a perfect case in point and send us back to Houle’s words to sum up the band’s work… “The Great Book of John is a staggeringly vital record, one that I would hope gets tongues wagging in music critic circles when it comes time to select the best records of the year. It might be an album out on a small label, but it’s scope and ambition deserves laurels of the highest order. Essential listening for anyone with even a casual interest in either Wilco or Radiohead.”