PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Music

Tim Easton: Porcupine

Tim Easton comes back with guns blazing and a 14-pack of great songs.


Tim Easton

Porcupine

Label: New West
UK Release Date: Available as import
US Release Date: 2009-04-28
Amazon
Amazon
iTunes

An enduring image I have of Tim Easton is him warming up for an outdoor gig in Walla Walla, Washington. The opening act was mid-set. Easton wandered off with his acoustic Gibson. After a few minutes, I went to find him. He was wandering down a railroad track, harmonica on his neck, playing “All the Pretty Girls Leave Town”. It occurred to me in that moment that most of his music may come from situations just like this. What for most of us is a photograph is to Tim Easton a song. For a decade now he has been putting these pictures to music and forging paths that are his own. While the rest of his industry is busy with the sky falling, he wanders and writes. The product of those wanderings and writings are always honest, compelling and delivered in a way that only Easton can.

His latest, Porcupine, is different though. It’s a 14-song cycle that doesn’t so much pick up where Ammunition left off as it does light off all that Ammunition on fire and watch is blow. This is not the Tim Easton who crooned his way through “Next To You”. This is the Tim Easton who commanded the stage with bands like the Whipsaws, Two Cow Garage and Rosavelt.

Porcupine opens with a count off and then a rockabilly riff, with Easton laying lyrics over the top. More in line with his release Special 20, the lyrics end up in a duel with the guitar that plays out loose. “Broke my Heart” is more like Ammunition. The newlywed Easton seems to be more focused on relationships, going so far as to proclaim that ‘’there are only two things left in the world / just love and the lack thereof” . Easton seems to have resigned himself to love when he sings, “you know you can’t run away this time.” This song is an example of where all the worlds of Tim Easton come together: the rocking Special 20, the experimental Truth About Us the and the angry Ammunition. All in one space, Easton is at the top of his game. Porcupine does have a re-inclusion of the song “Baltimore” for no discernible reason, but it’s a great song, so it’s welcome in the mix.

The title track is a greasy dirge with an ominous bass line and a vocal delivered through a wall. There is a surf guitar solo in the background that feels more David Lynch than Gidget. Easton’s take on darkness achieves its aim. “Stormy’ starts with a Duster Romweber feel. It is on a track like this that you come to realize what a treat it is to hear Easton with a full band. That guitar-picking solo act is fulfilling but this is something more. This record brings what Levon Helm would have referred to as “an adult portion” of rock and roll.

“Get What I Got” is another bluesy Easton classic. When he is at his best, in a song like this, there are few peers. He slices through lyrics and the guitars are unrelenting. They are like stories told over a campfire by Gorf Murlix. Easton has always been a good guitar player, but this record puts him into the category of great.

In the years since Easton moved west, he seems to have lost a bit of the transient nature that characterized his earlier work. A few songs here send the signal that his wanderlust may be in retreat. Take “Northbound“, a love song to the Northern states. He name-drops a few states, but the gist of the song is that when Easton found Alaska, he truly found himself. He found fellow songwriters who shared his vision. That elusive moment where I saw him on the train tracks is anything but elusive. His home in Joshua Tree seems to have become his muse. While he loves to play live, the theme here seems to be that he is more grown-up and at home with himself. “Goodbye Amsterdam” seems to be the follow up to “Dear Old Song and Dance”. Both songs are Easton’s take on the life not of a traveler, but a lover of the road. To the singer, giving up a lover is the same as giving up the cities that inspire him. Sometimes you have to make a choice. In “Goodbye Amsterdam” Easton makes his.

The cd version of Easton’s latest album sounds fantastic. But it is on one of its original vinyl printings that the album really comes to life. Independently released, Easton took the time to hand-paint each album cover. The aesthetic is beautiful, but even the sound transcends in this format. It is the exquisite cross between music and visual art, and represents another step towards Easton’s actualization as an artist.

Porcupine is Tim Easton’s finest record since Special 20. It summons the front man in him and lets the guitars do the talking. If Ammunition was Tim Easton’s soft political side, then Porcupine is his muscle-flexing side. It should not be ignored.

7

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Film

The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.

Music

British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.

Film

Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.

Music

​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.

Music

The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.

Music

Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.

Television

How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.

Music

Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.

Music

CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.

Music

Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.

Music

While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.

Music

Peter Frampton Asks "Do You Feel Like I Do?" in Rock-Solid Book on Storied Career

British rocker Peter Frampton grew up fast before reaching meteoric heights with Frampton Comes Alive! Now the 70-year-old Grammy-winning artist facing a degenerative muscle condition looks back on his life in his new memoir and this revealing interview.

Books

Bishakh Som's 'Spellbound' Is an Innovative Take on the Graphic Memoir

Bishakh's Som's graphic memoir, Spellbound, serves as a reminder that trans memoirs need not hinge on transition narratives, or at least not on the ones we are used to seeing.

Music

Gamblers' Michael McManus Discusses Religion, Addiction, and the Importance of Writing Open-Ended Songs

Seductively approachable, Gamblers' sunny sound masks the tragedy and despair that populate the band's debut album.

Books

Peter Guralnick's 'Looking to Get Lost' Is an Ode to the Pleasures of Writing About Music

Peter Guralnick's homage to writing about music, 'Looking to Get Lost', shows how good music writing gets the music into the readers' head.

Film

In Praise of the Artifice in George Cukor's 'Sylvia Scarlett'

George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.

Music

The Cure: Ranking the Albums From 13 to 1

Just about every Cure album is worth picking up, and even those ranked lowest boast worthwhile moments. Here are their albums, spanning 29 years, presented from worst to best.

Television

The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'

This is a timeless list of 20 thrilling Star Trek episodes that delight, excite, and entertain, all the while exploring the deepest aspects of the human condition and questioning our place in the universe.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.