Music

The Dexateens: Hardwire Healing

Alabama country-punks the Dexateens still sound hell-bent and ornery on this, their strongest album so far, albeit in a more mature, reflective, back-porch sort of way.


The Dexateens

Hardwire Healing

Label: Skybucket
US Release Date: 2007-02-06
UK Release Date: 2006-10-16
Amazon
iTunes

It's taken nine years of kicking up the dust touring and three studio albums for the Dexateens to complete the transition their music hinted at all along. On Hardwire Healing, these good ole boys from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, have finally picked up their instruments and steadfastly embraced southern rock. No longer are they to be found in the garage thrashing out the amp-busting, adrenaline-fuelled country-punk which heralded their self-titled 2004 debut, or playing the fine mix of swamp-boogie and distinct echoes of Exile on Main Street-era Stones channeled through a scuzzy blues-grunge that helped make up 2005's Red Dust Rising. No sir, today these boys can more likely be discovered stompin' and hollerin' from the stage of a shotgun shack nestled somewhere deep in the pines. Like their Muscle Shoals neighbours and touring buddies Drive-By Truckers, whose frontman Patterson Hood co-produced this third LP (the first one for local label Skybucket) with ex-Sugar bassist David Barbe, the Dexateens have discovered that inside every 'Bama punk there's a country rocker just waiting to escape. Naturally, they still sound hell-bent and ornery, albeit in a more mature, reflective, backporch sort of way. As the band's lead singer/guitarist Elliot McPherson has succinctly put it, "This record might be a little less raw".

Nevertheless, when the pounding beat of drummer Craig "Sweet Dog" Pickering starts to count in the infectious southern fried groove on opener "Naked Ground", and Matt Patton's gently plucked bass begins to cautiously accompany him, only to be forcefully followed by the triple-axe attack of McPherson, John Smith, and new member Nikolaus Mimikakis, you know for sure that "less raw" does not necessarily have to mean less heavy. And it's this expansive three-pronged guitar assault favoured by southern-rock pioneers Lynyrd Skynyrd that sets the country-twang tone for the rest of the album, mixing weighty riff-laden numbers such as the strutting, ass-kickin'"Makers Mound", the gritty, reverb 'n' roll of "What Money Means", and the staccato-blues stomper "Fyffe", with the sparse acoustic arrangements on tunes like the beautiful, melancholic ballad "Nadine", or the chugging smoky-blues of "Freight Train".

Still, it's not the songs that want to make a country boy get off his bar stool and kick it up that supply the highlights on this excellent record, but the more contemplative, intimate numbers which often find the quavering, country drawl of McPherson sharing a single mic with Smith while guest player John Neff's resonant pedal steel fills the gaps. Fine examples are provided by the mellow southern-soul romancer "Some Things", with its catchy, hook-laden guitar work, and the despondent folk-roots of "Downtown", a tale of hard drinking and partying which finds them trawling the same old bars with "Another set of brand new friends" just to watch the "Daylight through the panes / Last call tumbling down the drains".

Elsewhere, the honky-tonkin' "Neil Armstrong" takes off as though the Flying Burrito Brothers are passengers on a prairie rocket ship soaring into the stratosphere piloted by Neil Young, while the rolling guitar blues of "Fingertips" yields up some fine back-porch meditations just before a shack-rocking finale signals the end of the album, and what sounds like a chance for Pickering to attempt to demolish a chair with his drum sticks. Maybe a little of that punk spirit still nestles in the woodpile out back. But whatever happens next, this album proves one thing for sure, the Dexateens smoke whether they're stompin', hollerin', or serenading.

8

So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less
6

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less
Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

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