Sound’s Greg Cartwright and The Ettes’ Coco Hames team up, abetted by a host of
other garage-rock luminaries, for a platterful of “Strychnine Dandelion” and a
mouthful of much obliged, courtesy the In The Red Label. Out this week at all
fine independent record stores. Poster for their upcoming show in Baltimore, above.
By Ron Hart
Originally The Parting Gifts were intended as a one-off
split 7-inch project between Asheville, NC, garage rock impresario Greg Cartwright of Compulsive
Gamblers/Oblivians and Reigning Sound fame and Ettes frontwoman Coco Hames,
currently based in Nashville.
But soon enough, the duo found themselves with a wellspring of great songs that
eventually cumulated into an entire album’s worth of material. Recorded at the
notorious Music City USA studio The Bomb Shelter, Strychnine Dandelion finds Hames and Cartwright working alongside
a veritable wrecking crew of prolific musicians featuring Dan Auerbach of The
Black Keys on lead guitar, Greenhornes/Raconteurs drummer Patrick Keeler,
Coco’s Ettes bandmates Jem Cohen and Poni Silver on bass and percussion
respectively and Dave Amels of Reigning Sound on keyboards – a supergroup of
modern day American rock if there ever was one.
And together, these guys kick up a dustcloud of Mekons-esque
cow punk and what one may or may not hear as a post-Dolls David Johansen backed
by Thee Headcoats within the confines of Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound,
highlighted by tracks like the bitter “Strange Disposition”, a scrappy,
girl-group-style cover of The Rolling Stones’ 1964 obscurity “(Walkin’ Thru
the) Sleepy City” and the lovely Hames-penned country ballad that closes out
the LP, “This House Ain’t A Home”. Strychnine
Dandelion is a testament to rock ‘n’ roll’s fine line between street
integrity and pop lust as told by two of its most unheralded heroes of the day.