Music

Johnny Hickman: Tilting

Stephen Haag

Cracker's axeslinger gets introspective on his long-awaited sophomore album.


Johnny Hickman

Tilting

Label: Campstove
US Release Date: 2012-07-03
UK Release Date: 2012-07-03
Artist URL
Label URL
Amazon
iTunes

Though chiefly the axeslinger for long-running alt-country outfit Cracket, Johnny Hickman always managed to sneak a few worthy tunes onto that band’s albums, from the twisted and silly “Superfan” to the gutwrenching “Another Song About The Rain”, and finally stepped out on his own for 2005’s solo trad rock bow Palmhenge, an album notable for predicting the economic collapse three years before it happened on “The Great Decline” (and if you squint, maybe Julian Assange on “Hacker Boy”). For his second solo turn Tilting, Hickman still sings to truth and stays in his comfortable No Depression singer/songwriter mode, but he trades in the (inadvertent?) soothsaying for introspection with a dozen confident, unhurried, honest tunes.

The mellow six-plus minute “Destiny Misspent” examines exactly that; call it a more regretful “Glory Days” (and even cites deceased Sparklehorse frontman and Hickman buddy Mark Linkous as an example), while “Whittled Down” takes a resigned look at the toll life on the road in a band exacts, one “whittled down by the blade in your hand”. Meanwhile, the plainspoken “Dream Along With Me” and gospel-tinged “Drunkard’s Epiphany” veer, to these ears, a little too far into navel gazing, but those moments are offset by the 1%-bashing opener “Measure of a Man” (“You wash your hands of all the common people at the end of another working day”), the Randy Newman-esque 21st-century America indictment “Not Enough” (“We know our god can beat up everyone”), the “Fox On The Run”-nicking “Sick Cynthia Thing” and some dependably solid barroom rock on “Resurrection Train” and “Another Road”. Tilting feels like a nice companion piece to two other albums made by middle-aged rock ‘n’ roll dudes this year, who examined the world and their place in it: Chuck Prophet’s San Francisco love letter Temple Beautiful and Todd Snider’s Agnostic Hymns and Stoner Fables. Long may they run.

6

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image