Music

Grayson Capps & the Stumpknockers: Rott 'N' Roll

Capps holes up in his farmhouse with some friends for a vibrant display of his talents.


Grayson Capps & the Stumpknockers

Rott 'N' Roll

Label: Hyena
US Release Date: 2008-09-09
UK Release Date: Available as import
Amazon
iTunes

"Rott 'N' Roll" is a term concocted by Grayson Capps's fans to describe his mix of southern rock snarl, hard-charging blues, and introspective balladry. It certainly works as a title for this, Capps's fourth album, which throws all of his styles against the wall to see what sticks. Despite that anything-goes quality -- or perhaps because of it -- Rott 'N' Roll sounds fluid and relaxed. Recorded at Capps's home studio, it's perhaps the closest he's come to capturing the feel of his live show.

Capps starts off slow, almost as if the record is warming itself up. With a relaxed tone, Capps issues a statement of purpose by contrasting his world travels with his roots in "Back to the Country", admires the natural beauty around him in "Arrowhead", and leads a frontporch shoutout to "Gran Maw Maw". Not content to stay in one place, though, the album's just as full of aching blues (the stately "Psychic Channel Blues", the countrified "Big Black Buzzard"), flat-out rock (the hard-charging "Sock Monkey" and the raucous "Big Ole Woman"), and some patented Capps spookiness ("The Waltz", with its increasingly manic rhythm, sounds like it could be the soundtrack to a Southern Gothic tale directed by Tim Burton).

Through it all, his band, the Stumpknockers (Tommy MacLuckie on lead guitar, Josh Kerin on bass, and John Milham on drums), flex plenty of muscle. Reportedly, the whole crew pretty much worked days and partied nights at Capps's farmhouse, and the relaxed sense of camaraderie certainly comes through. Equally adept at chicken-pickin' raveups as they are at backing Capps on his more delicate moments, the band goes out with a bang on the nearly six-minute-long instrumental "Bacon".

Lyrically, Capps mixes the plainspoken and straightforward ("I'm going back to the country 'cause country's what I am") with the literary ("He looks like old Boo Radley / He's pale and his veins are blue / Now he looks like one of them Hadleys / After they've been drunk a month or two"). "Guitar" might be his most unguarded moment put to tape, while "The Fear Fruit Bearing Tree" is an ominous spoken-word piece.

It all makes for a pretty complete picture of Capps, so it's very satisfying in that way. Each of the styles presented here is marked by at least one highlight that makes you wonder what it would sound like if he really plumbed the depths of that particular sound and went for more thematic consistency on an album. "Big Ole Woman", with its lively appreciation for flesh, is a lot of fun, but it's a little jarring placed next to the sensitivity that permeates "Guitar". But that's what you get with Capps; he lays it out there and lets you sort it out. And any wishes about what his records could be probably vary from listener to listener, as we hear a songwriter who continues to realize his potential.

7

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less
9
TV

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less
9

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.


Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09
Amazon

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less
7

Gallagher's work often suffers unfairly beside famous husband's Raymond Carver. The Man from Kinvara should permanently remedy this.

Many years ago—it had to be 1989—my sister and I attended a poetry reading given by Tess Gallagher at California State University, Northridge's Little Playhouse. We were students, new to California and poetry. My sister had a paperback copy of Raymond Carver's Cathedral, which we'd both read with youthful admiration. We knew vaguely that he'd died, but didn't really understand the full force of his fame or talent until we unwittingly went to see his widow read.

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