Posts Tagged ‘Steve Gunn’

Hans Chew

Hans Chew has popped up here from time to time, first with fellow traveler D. Charles Speer and then his name kept surfacing on albums from artists I’d held in high esteem – Jack Rose, Steve Gunn, Endless Boogie. Then he tucked into heading up his own crew. He’s been picking out his own brand of Americana over ever since, one that seems rougher, realer and a bit more country than the indie players who break out the acoustic and try to twang up their songs for a diversion from the norm. With the rhythm section from Rhyton behind him and compatriot Dave Cavallo adding a good dose of clearcut psych guitar, the album is leathered and worn with the kind of creases that current “outlaw” country isn’t coming close to.

Chew’s country is more of a feeling than an approach though. The heart of the record lies in a rock ‘n roll shallow grave, bleeding out for all the sinners after a bar brawl gone wrong. He’s got all the trappings of the local last call bar band, but with the kind of ingrained talent that would make you leave a beer hanging in stunned silence while the band tears into ’70s deep cuts from Let It Bleed, Greetings From L.A., and Zuma. There’s a certain grace to Open Sea, worn in like faded denim, comfortable and comforting all at once. It’s a reminder that sometimes a solid footing, even in territory that’s worn to threads, can feel just right.

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RSTB Best of 2017

So this year is drawing to a close, or almost, we’re still a few weeks away from pushing the broken pieces of 2017 into the trash. There’s no real solace from a lot of the events that took place this year, but, independent of any current events, music has been kind to us all this year. These are the records that spent the most time on the turntable over here. Yeah, I know its kind of a lot, but there were far too many good ones that haven’t been getting the shouts they need elsewhere. Lets say this serves as both a best of and a most overlooked in one go. If you enjoy ’em, buy ’em if you can. Don’t do them the disservice of just bumping up the streaming numbers.

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Gunn-Truscinski Duo

Has it really been since 2012 that Steve Gunn and John Truscinski paired their prowess to purge a temperamental squall from their instruments? Seems that it has, but the pair is back together and despite Gunn’s rather meteoric rise in the interim, it feels like not a day has passed in their symbiotic sonic pact. Bay Head, their new LP, sounds like two artists making music simply for themselves and the cut cord of commercial appeal suits them nicely.

Moving away from Gunn’s recent reliance on pop structure, the record builds its stormfronts on both his fingerpicked runs, threading the album like looped vines of sound, and a more caustic, rusted metal explosion of corroded fuzz. The album is, for the most part, covered in clouds that are grey streaked and threatening at times, but when the duo lets a little light in there’s a peek of delicacy as well (“Shell,” “Some Lunar Day”). Even Gunn’s most enticing moments, however, are not without a bouquet of thorns for listeners who relax into their twined beauty too quickly. This is not a sunshine ramble of folk, but rather a full picture of turmoil and respite.

The real beauty here is in the interplay between the two artists. With guitar and percussion duos the language is the most important thing and Gunn and Truscinski know how to converse, playing off one another in subtle nudges. When the guitars threaten to boil, scratching at their amps like caged animals, Truscinski pulls the chain, tumbling with Gunn but knowing where the boundaries lie. Bay Head is ecstatic and free, but never messy, never threatening to buck its listener. This album is a reminder of just how potent these two musicians can be, and even if its another five years before we get another one, it’ll have been worth it.




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Gunn-Truscinski Duo

Back before Steve Gunn was commanding Matador wheatpaste, he and John Truscinski had been laying down cinder-psych issues for Three Lobed with no particular agenda except finding the a common buzz and following it through the veil. They’re back in form here, with Steve shying away from his accessible canon of late and going in for scorched threads of nylon string rip and Truscinski anchoring him back down to the cruel, dusted Earth. Couldn’t be happier that the duo is divining the truth yet again, though I’d also be amenable to news of a new Golden Gunn album as well. Guess I shouldn’t go asking for favors. Still, mark you calendars for this nugget.




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Steve Gunn

First time I heard Steve Gunn was back in 2007 on a small label called Onomoto, known for acts like Taiga Remains and Ghosting. Gunn was pulling down ragged fingerpicked odes that hung in the air like frost. The sound quality was scratchy but the talent was clear under the hiss. Its been years since those days and ever since the second phase of Gunn’s life rolled down with 2013’s Time Off he’s been marked for greatness, steadily straightening the rumpled blazer sound that he’s stepped into. Eyes On The Lines is Gunn fully formed, running at peak but still never feeling flashy about it. The man can play. If you need any proof, plunk down a copy of Seasonal Hire, his collaboration with The Black Twig Pickers. That ought to set you straight. But even with the talent in tow, it’s the way he wields that makes him unique. Most of his songs tend to capture the feeling of the highway stretching endlessly on the horizon; sauntering in a way that clips by like the steady pace of pines out the rolled window. In this respect his solos never blister, they feel like the pent up relief of a good stretch when the car stops. They’re air in the lungs and feet on the ground.

Eyes On The Lines deploys those moments of clarity in ample doses but the surrounding build and fade is hardly shabby either. Sure its a more accessible and, dare say, mature record from Steve, but he’s finding a way to show age in style. The country touches whisper in at the edges, a bend of twang here and a dusted dose of strum running its way under the chorus. He’s still got some of his ragged roots showing though, there’s certainly a warble of psych that curls in with the rest of the smoke filling up the rooms of this record. In the end though, its all those touches coming together to make a perfect montage of diner coffees, halogen lights flickering over gas pumps, center lines and steel girders; the air peppered with throat dust and the cold freshness of leaves on the air. That’s the heart of Eyes On The Lines, that and the itch of needing to get moving, even when it feels good to stretch.

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Steve Gunn – “Ancient Jules”

Steve Gunn’s made the amiable transition from his instrumental roots to road worn troubadour, and the video for his latest taste of Eyes on the Lines is steeped in that traveler’s ethos. The video sees him winding backroads and ending up in what looks to be quite a nice little night hanging with fellow guitar legend Michael Chapman. The song has a tarnished brass feel to it, driven by Gunn’s country flecked guitar sound and brought home with his weathered sigh of a croon. The album’s positioned to bring Gunn to a much bigger audience and frankly there aren’t more deserving. If this and that Kevin Morby album aren’t soundtracking your early summer nights, then you’re kinda missing the point.

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Steve Gunn – “Conditions Wild”

Its always nice to see longtime RSTB faves grow to the kind of widespread attention they deserve. Steve Gunn has been a fixture on the site for quite a while and his classic Golden Gunn album remains on constant rotation on my turntable. Way Out Weather broke him to a wide audience and signing to Matador probably won’t hurt either, huh? The first taste of his new album for the venerable label, Eyes On The Lines, takes a more accessible direction than ever, delving into the lushest bit of singer-songwriter territory Gunn’s ever explored. But with that unmistakable Gunn guitar snaking its way through the track and a crack team of players assembled for the album – Nathan Bowles (drums, banjo, organ), Hans Chew (wurlitzer), James Elkington (guitar, lap steel, dobro), Mary Lattimore (harp), Jason Meagher (bass, guitar, flute), Paul Sukeena (guitar), Justin Tripp (bass, keyboards), and John Truscinski (drums) – it would be hard to keep this one under wraps for long.

The video takes Steve on a stop-motion diorama trip through the woods that ends with Steve charming his would be threats with his guitar. Seems like a solid plan to me. This is looking to be an album worth keeping tabs on until its June release.

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