Butch Walker: The Rise and Fall of Butch Walker and the Lets-Go-Out Tonites

This album is the real deal, the shit, a modern masterpiece, and I don't use those terms lightly. It rocks from beginning to end with an arched eyebrow and a steamy sexuality.

Butch Walker

The Rise and Fall of Butch Walker and the Let's-Go-Out Tonites

Label: Epic
US Release Date: 2006-07-11
UK Release Date: 2006-07-17

If the title of the new Butch Walker CD reminds one of David Bowie’s tribute to Ziggy Stardust, let me assure you, the coincidence is entirely intentional. Walker’s latest opus captures the sound and mood of that glam rock masterpiece, as well as that of the best of Marc Bolan and Mott the Hoople. This record is at least as good, if not better, than anything they made.

This album is the real deal, the shit, a modern masterpiece, and I don’t use those terms lightly. It rocks from beginning to end with an arched eyebrow and a steamy sexuality, while the songs sparkle with wit. The music serves as a heightened soundtrack for the movie of one’s mediated existence and the real one in which we live -- can the two ever really be separated? Pass the drugs of choice, please. The lyrics mock our pretensions, hopes and fears: Watch the celebrities ball. Wham, bam thank you --’am? Even the slow songs, like “Dominoes”, contain the sweet echo of rehab and lost salvation more than the promise of a rosy future. Memories and grace (sigh) promise more than can ever be delivered.

Do I ramble? Very well then, I am large. I contain multitudes or at least have had sex with too many to remember. Like Walker, our collective vistas have always been democratic in a sophisticated way. Raunchy? Well what would one expect from songs like “Hot Girls in Good Moods” and “Paid to Get Excited”. But cheap thrills are just one part of the pleasure. In an age of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, one is as free to hate as one is to love and the god of love is the god of hate. Not only that: “God is the new Elvis / and he’s gonna rock tonight,” Walker croons to a fast-paced martial beat, and you know he’s right whether one asks the Lord's help hunting for the enemy or just wants divine assistance to get laid.

Walker's songs are open to interpretation because of their specifics. “All these words keep shooting out my pencil like a gun,” Walker says. “I use the gunshot words so they won’t get on the air.” Holy Pynchon and shades of Oedipa Maas. The underground way of communication has returned with a vengeance.

But this ain’t some lo-fi independent alternative bullshit. This is major label arena rock with pretensions. Walker aims to bring everyone together under the big tent. He writes anthems, and when the song doesn’t have a catchy chorus, he calls it “Song Without a Chorus”. Who needs a chorus when the verses themselves contain hooks big enough to catch sharks? And Walker is not content to perform one style. He confounds expectations and breaks into alt country on the acoustic-stringed tale of America’s rural working class’s unfulfilled dreams, “Rich People Die Unhappy”. Like Jethro Clampett trying to keep up with the high society set, Walker unwittingly knows we are on a quest one can’t win or even understand.

Walker has garnered a reputation as a producer of hits for his work with Pink, Avril Lavigne, and Lindsay Lohan to name a few, but this disc suggests he deserves to be a star in his own right. (Ironically, he is a judge on the television program Rock Star.) Walker does more than see through the bull. He takes the bull by its horns on this disc, rides it for eight seconds and turns its hide into a purse and its muscle into meat. And like those before him, he knows “it ain’t the meat its the motion that makes one want to rock.”

Walker infuses his melodies with snarky guitars and pounding drum beats. Whether he’s singing about the geography of Los Angeles eating up the city, as in “When Canyons Rule the City”, or starlets hanging out after hours in “Too Famous to get Fully Dressed”, Walker knows the point is always the same: let’s rock. It doesn’t matter if the world is coming to an end. The worst sin is being boring. That’s one thing Walker will never be.






The Dance of Male Forms in Denis' 'Beau travail'

Claire Denis' masterwork of cinematic poetry, Beau travail, is a cinematic ballet that tracks through tone and style the sublimation of violent masculine complexes into the silent convulsions of male angst.


The Cradle's 'Laughing in My Sleep' Is an Off-kilter Reflection of Musical Curiosity

The Cradle's Paco Cathcart has curated a thoughtfully multifarious album. Laughing in My Sleep is an impressive collection of 21 tracks, each unapologetic in their rejection of expectations.


Tobin Sprout Goes Americana on 'Empty Horses'

During the heyday of Guided By Voices, Tobin Sprout wasn't afraid to be absurd amongst all that fuzz. Sprout's new album, Empty Horses, is not the Tobin Sprout we know.


'All In: The Fight for Democracy' Spotlights America's Current Voting Restrictions as Jim Crow 2.0

Featuring an ebullient and combative Stacey Abrams, All In: The Fight for Democracy shows just how determined anti-democratic forces are to ensure that certain groups don't get access to the voting booth.


'Transgender Street Legend Vol. 2' Finds Left at London "At My Peak and Still Rising"

"[Pandemic lockdown] has been a detriment to many people's mental health," notes Nat Puff (aka Left at London) around her incendiary, politically-charged new album, "but goddamn it if I haven't been making some bops here and there!"


Daniel Romano's 'How Ill Thy World Is Ordered' Is His Ninth LP of 2020 and It's Glorious

No, this is isn't a typo. Daniel Romano's How Ill Thy World Is Ordered is his ninth full-length release of 2020, and it's a genre-busting thrill ride.


The Masonic Travelers Offer Stirring Rendition of "Rock My Soul" (premiere)

The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story, Volume 1 captures the sacred soul of Memphis in the 1970s and features a wide range of largely forgotten artists waiting to be rediscovered. Hear the Masonic Travelers "Rock My Soul".


GLVES Creates Mesmerizing Dark Folktronica on "Heal Me"

Australian First Nations singer-songwriter GLVES creates dense, deep, and darkish electropop that mesmerizes with its blend of electronics and native sounds on "Heal Me".


Otis Junior and Dr. Dundiff Tells Us "When It's Sweet" It's So Sweet

Neo-soul singer Otis Junior teams with fellow Kentuckian Dr. Dundiff and his hip-hop beats for the silky, groovy "When It's Sweet".


Lars and the Magic Mountain's "Invincible" Is a Shoegazey, Dreamy Delight (premiere)

Dutch space pop/psychedelic band Lars and the Magic Mountain share the dreamy and gorgeous "Invincible".


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" Wryly Looks at Lost Love (premiere + interview)

Singer-songwriter Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" is a less a flat-earther's anthem and more a wry examination of heartache.


Big Little Lions' "Distant Air" Is a Powerful Folk-Anthem (premiere)

Folk-pop's Big Little Lions create a powerful anthem with "Distant Air", a song full of sophisticated pop hooks, smart dynamics, and killer choruses.


The Flat Five Invite You to "Look at the Birdy" (premiere)

Chicago's the Flat Five deliver an exciting new single that exemplifies what some have called "twisted sunshine vocal pop".


Brian Bromberg Pays Tribute to Hendrix With "Jimi" (premiere + interview)

Bass giant Brian Bromberg revisits his 2012 tribute to Jimi Hendrix 50 years after his passing, and reflects on the impact Hendrix's music has had on generations.

Jedd Beaudoin

Shirley Collins' ​'Heart's Ease'​ Affirms Her Musical Prowess

Shirley Collins' Heart's Ease makes it apparent these songs do not belong to her as they are ownerless. Collins is the conveyor of their power while ensuring the music maintains cultural importance.


Ignorance, Fear, and Democracy in America

Anti-intellectualism in America is, sadly, older than the nation itself. A new collection of Richard Hofstadter's work from Library of America traces the history of ideas and cultural currents in American society and politics.

By the Book

Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto (excerpt)

Just as big tech leads world in data for profit, the US government can produce data for the public good, sans the bureaucracy. This excerpt of Julia Lane's Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto will whet your appetite for disruptive change in data management, which is critical for democracy's survival.

Julia Lane

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

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