Posts Tagged ‘Bloomington’

The Cowboys

Bloomington’s Cowboys spit-shined their work for Volume 4, the first of their records that found them studio bound. That record snuck out on tape last year and caught a few ears, but hardly enough, given the promise the band showed and the kind of sweat ‘n soul whirlwind they were showcasing between those two spools. Happily, a couple of folks agreed enough to press it down to LP this year and the band follows on with their a brand new LP for Hozac.

They’ve strayed from the studio back to their home setup, but despite cranking these tunes to 8-track, they’ve still managed to keep the crust at bay. Despite a little tape hiss, the transition isn’t too noticeable. Forging on with plenty more sweat-wrenchers, the band’s prowess is cemented within the grooves of the new record, and on 3rd LP, they should rightfully garnish comparisons to Aussie exports Royal Headache. For all their shakin’ bouts of guitar twang their true asset is apparent in vocalist Keith Harman, who’s got a a leather-scratched soul wail that’s as classic as any. His delivery bumps them up out of the cattle call of garage bands that swarm the country. Though, to say Harman’s the only reason to listen isn’t giving The Cowboys enough credit.

The band’s also got a real affinity for shying away from the cliches of garage’s past and present. They’ve got a lighter touch and aren’t afraid to swagger into territory that’s more Todd Rundgren than tortured fuzz (“Mike’s Dust”, “Like A Man”) and it suits them well. Even when they’re still hitting the gas, Harman pulls them closer to Jagger blue-eyed soul territory rather than tumbling through the Sonics/Stooges axis that’s often split by so many these days. The record’s got a ton of appeal and feels like it’s constantly just a hard push away from making something that’s indelible in the halls of rock. This feels like its going to be a watershed moment to look back on from their undoubtedly future classics.




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Premiere: The Cowboys – “I Hope She’s Ok”

The Cowboys’ excellent Vol. 4 was a nice surprise last year. The band cleaned up their act a bit, headed into the studio and laid down an excellent, yet overlooked album. It bumped them onto some radars though, and with luck they’re about to pop on a few more. Their pace hasn’t faltered a step as they head into the Fall with another release on the docket, this time for HoZac. They’ve swapped the studio for the four track this time, but “I Hope She’s Ok” doesn’t show too much crackle for their austerity. As a contrast to the first taste, “Mike’s Dust,” the band kicks the up tempo again and injects a ragged spirit into the track. They cut the edge with a sweet blue-eyed soul stab before the track melts into a molten fray that should play well in this summer of swelter. It’s just more goodness from a band that’s quietly building a reputation as slept on garage-pop heroes.



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The Dancing Cigarettes – Dance Dogs Dance

Been meaning to write this one up for a while, but it’s still readily available and while that speaks to the relative shame that the general populace continues to ignore the unsung twitching of this Indiana band, its a good opportunity for you, the lucky listener. The band came together around ’79 and grew in popularity in their hometown of Bloomington, IN and surrounding Midwestern touring routes, though they made their way East from time to time. The band never recorded an album proper at the time, releasing an EP on Gulcher and some compilation tracks, though they were extremely prolific and had plenty of material to fill out a proper release. In the wake of their demise there have actually been a couple of retrospectives, but this LP contains material that eludes both, and serves as a pretty excellent introduction.

Sadly, they began to lose members along the way, though they persisted in some form for almost four years. The recordings here date just post their Gulcher EP and round up unreleased cuts from both studio and live settings in excellent quality and inspired energy. Dance Dogs Dance is a kindred soul to fellow Midwestern jitter-punks Pere Ubu, The Girls and Dow Jones and the Industrials. For anyone looking to up their quotient of chewed aluminum punk, then this is an absolute necessity. It reaches fingers into post-punk, punk and the no wave corners of the late ’70s / early ’80s, but the anxious energy resonates with a resounding pull even today. Get on this one before they’re truly gone.




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The Cowboys

January always ends up a nice little filter for those releases that dove a bit deeper and missed the net in the previous year. Sadly I’m just getting to write up this killer tape from Bloomington’s garage chargers The Cowboys. The band has had several EPs out over the past few years, culminating in an album released on Lumpy records that cherry picked some of their best tracks from the first three. The album and earlier material showed the promise of a band finding their footing and digging through some proto-punk piles to find their sound. On the band’s latest tape for hometown label Turd World, they seem to have finally found it. The fidelity is bounced up a notch and they smooth out their clangin’ into a swagger that digests the nerviness of ’70s punks like The Flys, The Quick or The Wasps with a low-slung purr that reminds me of The Growlers in a very nice way. They still have just a touch of the Billy Childish froth hanging on from their early EPs as well, and it all comes together to a rather essential, yet brief release.

Vol. 4 is packed with moments that feel less like a band with a crush on those halcyon days, than one that’s so accurately recreating the vibe they could very easily slip a few of these into lost punk and power pop comps and pass rather convincingly as long lost sneer merchants. Its just a solid sender from top to bottom. Now for the crushing blow, the tape is sold out (though apparently promised to repress very shortly) and Turd World has not gotten it up digitally as of yet. Fingers crossed on both counts as this one is casting a long shadow as one of 2016’s most overlooked. I’d settle for that tape back in circ, but if some label wants to step up to the vinyl plate, all the better. It deserves it.

For now you can stream the entire tape below.



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