-->
Music

Don Chambers and Goat: Zebulon

Produced by Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers, this album tells old Southern stories along lonely dirt roads.


Don Chambers and Goat

Zebulon

Label: WARM Electronic
US Release Date: 2008-09-09
UK Release Date: Unavailable
Website
Amazon
Amazon
iTunes

Don Chambers prefers the process of a journey to the destination or arrival. Formerly in the band Vaudeville, Chambers has concocted several Southern roadside tales, fuzzy, distorted dirges, and haunting tales of legends. Produced by Patterson Hood (Drive-By Truckers), Zebulon contains twelve songs with grungy arrangements and lonely dirt road musings.

Chambers takes notes on the road, writing down town, street, and business names and various anecdotes of occurrences for later visitation. The third album released with Goat, Zebulon's name comes from a sign for a town in southern Georgia that Chambers saw during a tour with the band. Chambers explains that this album is like the directions one gets from neighborly Southern folks who give way too many details. "Now, once you pass the sign with the bullet holes, turn left at the Doolie Hill Trailer Park, you know they say ole Doolie he had a predilection for vegetables, well, then hang a louie 'til you get bored, and then look for the twisted oak tree with a pair of rotting converse sneakers hanging in 'em, and then...." The curves and detours of following such a path become the importance of the journey. "You have no idea where he's telling you to go. Hell, you forgot where you were going, but you're fascinated with the rhythm of speech and details, your eyes are glazed over and you lose track of time. I like records that give you that kinda feeling, like you're going somewhere and not sure how you'll get there," says Chambers.

Usually, the sound is rusty and weathered, and the accompaniment tends to keep to a minimum. At times, Chambers and his downtrodden banjo are the only sounds against rickety percussion. "I Can Waltz" begins with a slow, tannic, and staccato banjo picking against Chambers's hungover croaks and moans. A metallic and hollow clunking helps keep time. Eventually, a moist and glassy percussion suggests muddy boots carrying a large pack over rough terrain. Chambers's lyrics paint the dismal but buoyant picture of an old, rugged man, amidst his afflictions and meager means, still waltzing with elegance. "I can waltz with my wooden leg / My hearing's gone but I know what you said / I can waltz though my rhythm's off / I got faults / But I can waltz", Chambers oozes with cigarette-stained creakiness. His grisly vocals sometimes search for the right pitch, adding another feeling of being lost, caught up in the road and the journey. Sometimes he conjures the tobacco-hued aura of David Lowery ("Falling Off the Edge of the World"), and other times he buzzes using a throaty lower register ("Ghosty Leg").

The vocal harmonies added to many of the songs give a touch of softness to the overall grainy mixture. Patterson Hood lends his backing vocals to two tracks. In "Friar's Lantern", interweaving textured guitar parts give way to Chambers and bassist Kevin Lane in airy and bright (for them) vocal harmonies. Liz Durrett adds a soprano edge toward the end. "We hunched over cigarettes", they speak and sing at the same time, telling a particularly vivid story of waiting. Matt Stoessel on pedal steel adds a seamless loneliness to the orchestration. This song perfectly showcases enjoying each and every syllable and note as it comes, loving the journey itself. The words they form become dry cracklings of the autumn chill the lyrics describe. "Through rusted buckshot circles and refrigerator door / Wheeze like an asthmatic's trachea", they sing, almost with onomatopoeia. The words do more than tell a story; they illustrate the sound. The listener can relish each moment as it comes, savoring the journey, misdirections, and short cuts all the same. The song is just another example of the disc's attitude. As Chambers himself sums up, "Throw out the map and drive; the joy is in the journey".

6
Music

The Best Indie Rock of 2017

Photo courtesy of Matador Records

The indie rock genre is wide and unwieldy, but the musicians selected here share an awareness of one's place on the cultural-historical timeline.

Indie rock may be one of the most fluid and intangible terms currently imposed upon musicians. It holds no real indication of what the music will sound like and many of the artists aren't even independent. But more than a sonic indicator, indie rock represents a spirit. It's a spirit found where folk songsters and punk rockers come together to dialogue about what they're fed up with in mainstream culture. In so doing they uplift each other and celebrate each other's unique qualities.

With that in mind, our list of 2017's best indie rock albums ranges from melancholy to upbeat, defiant to uplifting, serious to seriously goofy. As always, it's hard to pick the best ten albums that represent the year, especially in such a broad category. Artists like King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard had a heck of a year, putting out four albums. Although they might fit nicer in progressive rock than here. Artists like Father John Misty don't quite fit the indie rock mold in our estimation. Foxygen, Mackenzie Keefe, Broken Social Scene, Sorority Noise, Sheer Mag... this list of excellent bands that had worthy cuts this year goes on. But ultimately, here are the ten we deemed most worthy of recognition in 2017.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less
Music

The Best Country Music of 2017

still from Midland "Drinkin' Problem" video

There are many fine country musicians making music that is relevant and affecting in these troubled times. Here are ten of our favorites.

Year to year, country music as a genre sometimes seems to roll on without paying that much attention to what's going on in the world (with the exception of bro-country singers trying to adopt the latest hip-hop slang). That can feel like a problem in a year when 58 people are killed and 546 are injured by gun violence at a country-music concert – a public-relations issue for a genre that sees many of its stars outright celebrating the NRA. Then again, these days mainstream country stars don't seem to do all that well when they try to pivot quickly to comment on current events – take Keith Urban's muddled-at-best 2017 single "Female", as but one easy example.

Keep reading... Show less

It's ironic that by injecting a shot of cynicism into this glorified soap opera, Johnson provides the most satisfying explanation yet for the significance of The Force.

Despite J.J. Abrams successfully resuscitating the Star Wars franchise with 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, many fans were still left yearning for something new. It was comforting to see old familiar faces from a galaxy far, far away, but casual fans were unlikely to tolerate another greatest hits collection from a franchise already plagued by compositional overlap (to put it kindly).

Keep reading... Show less
7

Yeah Yeah Yeahs played a few US shows to support the expanded reissue of their debut Fever to Tell.

Although they played a gig last year for an after-party for a Mick Rock doc, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs hadn't played a proper NYC show in four years before their Kings Theatre gig on November 7th, 2017. It was the last of only a handful of gigs, and the only one on the East coast.

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

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

rating-image