DEATH RATTLE
OF THE WEST

 

Take me away to fairer lands

 

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CURRITUCK COUNTY - Medleys 12"

Unless you obsessively follow the TeenBeat roster, or are up on all the up and coming indie rock bands (I’m guessing most readers of this site aren’t), you might not have heard of Currituck County. Unless we talked about it that one time at the bar. That was some night, eh? You were FUCKED UP, and I can’t believe I almost went HOME with that crazy bitch! Bet you haven’t touched the Ol’ Grandad since then either, eh? I digress…

Currituck County is one Kevin Barker, known by many as the lead guitarist of TeenBeat sensations Aden. I know him as former WHPK DJ and continuing friend and ally. He writes beautiful but strong music for guitar and voice (Sometimes small band), not corny or mawkish in admiration of its influences. These are Kevin’s songs, and whatever kind of self-deprecating thing he might say about "Oh, this song is my Pentangle rip-off, and this is my John Fahey rip-off," is just modesty. Kevin knows what he’s doing, and most listeners who give half a fig newton about great folk songs know the real thing when they hear it. As a friend wrote me today about Currituck’s 7"s, "This is what I imagine David Crosby means when he talks about ‘wooden music.’" Not wooden as in stiff, but wooden as in ‘what everything around you that’s worth a shit is made out of.’

As long as we’re talking in metaphors, the wood is wrapped in cotton for this 12" record (a slim 35 minutes, just my size). With an ambiance that’s more suited to Ashtray Navigations or Pierre Schaeffer, we get to hear 35 minutes of a visit to the upstairs of the Barker household. I think I remember hearing something about how this was recorded during a Thanksgiving visit home to see the family, during those off-moments when all the uncles had fallen asleep on the couch, and all the aunts bickered over who should get the bulk of the leftovers ("No really, take the rest of the stuffing! Heavens knows I don’t need it. I’ll bet Johnny and Sarah would love to reheat it tomorrow! Well we can’t just throw it out…").

Through the miracle (not spoken lightly) of tape editing, we get to hear all sorts of moments…listen in as Kevin starts out working some elaborate chord changes to his song "Intertwining Arms," only to change it up into "I Think We’re Alone Now." Then someone leaves says something, and suddenly we’re listening to a long, languid version of "Suicide Is Painless." More room ambience, followed by some beautiful country blues, and some of Kevin’s best singing on any of his records, hittin’ the high lonesome notes from all the way deep down. Side two jumps around even more, culminating in a startling rendition of his "Did I See You," played on an old chord organ, the type like my grandma’s got in her house still! The kind that, as a little child, could mesmerize me for hours, pushing down on the little black and white buttons off to the side, each emitting a thick but wheezy (it was pretty old and not a little decrepit) hum that always sounded like heaven above was coming down to pick me up. The rendition here could not be different from the song on the "Punaluu" 7", and is several times as beautiful.

Like Ashtray Navigations’ "A Mayflower Garland" (a similarly limited and hard to find 12"), this is like a rainy-day activity book kind of day, documented on tape and arranged into an album, more like a photo album than a record album. Great front and back cover pics, as well as a hilarious and sad insert, reminding us of one of the biggest catch 22s known to the recently graduated…c’mon, you remember the old commercial, say it with me… "How to get experience without a job, and how to get a job without experience." Recommended to folk fans, pop fans, Climax Golden Twins fans, 78 collectors, and people who wear cozy records like sweaters around a cold domicile.

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CURRITUCK COUNTY - Unpacking My Library (TeenBeat!)

CURRITUCK COUNTY - Punaluu 7"
CURRITUCK COUNTY - s/t 7"