I have to admit, this is one that I’ve been waiting for quite a while. After talking with Jeffrey last summer about this one being on the way its been a year of waiting for everything to get in order and the debut from The Heavy Lidders hasn’t let me down in the least. While The Heavy Lidders had been working the live round in 2019, the stage sendup was a different beast from what’s on record here — more jam oriented, a psych-torn behemoth with a tender touch. On the eponymous LP, Alexander employs much the same setup as those live dates, with Jesse and Drew from Elkhorn both coming into the fold and Scott Verrastro (Kohoutek) coming on board for drums. They extend the family in the studio though, bringing on a host of RSTB familiar names like Marissa Nadler, Rosali Middleman, Pat Gubler, and Ryan Jewell.
The result is a more mercurial beast than those early live gigs. Alexander reinterprets an old favorite from his Feeding Tube solo slab, takes on covers with an open ear and a ripple of pain, and finds space between the damaged ‘80s auras of Meat Puppets, Giant Sand, and The Mekons. The weather-beaten hooks of SST-era Screaming Trees butt up against a Crazy Horse hangover. The record is as bare and honest as Alexander has ever sounded. Its taps a desperation that feels formidable at times, especially in his takes on familiar cuts from Hunter/Garcia and Gene Clark. But this record is more celebratory than sour, letting itself ride the Cosmic Americana crest on “Dark Ships in the Forest” and “Herb of Grace” before diving deep into the black hole for “Audobon Trooper.”
Fans of Alexander’s body of work will recognize shades here — the album touches on folk, skews heady, and has the kind of heft that’s inherent in much of his catalog, but ultimately The Heavy Lidders are a new chapter. Short of his work with JOMF, there’s never been as heavy a pop ripple as can be felt with The Lidders and the record makes the case for this side of his songwriting. With the Lidders, Jeffrey’s brought together a potent, joyous, contemplative record that slides high on the list of 2021 highlights.
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