BY BARRY ST. VITUS
After a few spins of this tasty booger from Burger, I had an epiphany of a perfect concert night lineup, (for me, at least,) consisting of John Wesley Coleman, the Spider Bags and Bobby Bare Jr. and His Young Criminals Starvation League. I’d be more knocked out by that one evening, than a whole weekend at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. They all share a certain musical bond of off-the-wall–rock, with a dollop of outlaw country, garage and psychedelia all scrambled in. Being that Coleman served a stint with fellow Texans, the Golden Boys, a garage-psych outfit with an actual Spider Bags connection, helps bring his style of music into focus. Writing poetry, one of many side creative outlets, serves him well in his song writing and story telling in his compositions. His musical influences range far and wide, from Jerry Reed, Woody Guthrie and John Fahey, to the many artists found on the SST and Homestead indie imprints. He lapped up all he could get of Dinosaur Jr., The Descendents, Sonic Youth, Big Black, the Big Boys and Nirvana back in the day.
The Love That You Own, his fifth release, makes for a thoroughly enjoyable outing, and being fronted by a habanero-hot band with a wicked pedal steel doesn’t hurt. There’s quirky genius at work here.
I’m tempted to call him the working man’s Julian Cope of the Lone Star state, especially on a slow cruising,’ and slinky tune like “Money In My Pocket.”
Opening tracks “I Wish the Night Could Be A Lot Longer” (very Bobby Bare Jr. sounding) and title track “The Love That You Own,” (with its George Harrison-ish horns and pedal steel opening) are excellent indicators of what lies ahead, immediately engaging and pulling you in. There’s quirkiness a-plenty in his plaintive canticle, “Liz Hitt, Queen of the Midwestern Punk Rock World,” about finding a heart of pure punk rock in the wilds of Nebraska, with its gnarly wash of squalling and swirling guitars. “The Well” perks up the pace again with a pounding, pulse-racing beat and piano accompaniment, a wicked love-child of Jerry Lee Lewis and Hasil Adkins. I can easily imagine Nobunny covering it, and especially “Our Love Is Blind,” a head-bobbing rocker.
“Love Drinks,” at six minutes, is the longest tune, a slow and repetitive piece, with a haunting refrain and an overall hypnotic effect. The last tune, “Looking For the Same Thing (Silver Jeans) is a delightful, shaggy Dylan clone, resembling “I Shall Be Released,” complete with organ, except maybe with Bobby being backed by the Spider Bags instead of the Band.
JWC and compadres have served up a right tasty compilation of tunes with “The Love That You Own,” but you’d expect that from any self-respecting rock band from Austin. The best thing is, you can, indeed, own it, and probably will love it. So, break out the longnecks and settle back.
DOWNLOAD: “The Love That You Own,” “The Well,” and “I Wish the Night Could Be A Lot Longer.“