Whisky & Culture

Americana at its best

Are we getting old or is it really the case that most of the great album music is coming from older guys? Our man looks at Golden Smog's Another Fine Day
By Rob Allanson
Well what the hell was all that about? 2006 – a year when British bands produced some of the best power pop singles you’re ever likely to hear but the great albums all came from the American pensioner party.Peruse just about any music magazine’s albums of the year and you’ll find a posse of old folk hogging the top table. Bob Dylan’s stomp through slurry blues was the top pick of a fair number of muso hacks. Neil Young produced the angriest political rant not just of the year but of the century so far. And Bruce Springsteen went all New Orleans vaudeville on us with the bizarre back catalogue of Pete Seeger and triumphed spectacularly. Even the old walrus David Crosby contributed to the year’s offerings.One album that slipped under most people’s radar, though, was Another Fine Day by Golden Smog. And if you’re a lover of tuneful Americana and you don’t own this, then you should. While you’re at it, you should be digging out the band’s previous two albums Weird Talesand Down By The Old Mainstream too.Golden Smog is an occasional project featuring members of Soul Asylum and Run Westy Run as well as Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy and Gary Louris of The Jayhawks. Effectively, these last two are alternative country’s answer to The Beatles, with Tweedy in the Lennon role and Louris as McCartney.That their respective groups aren’t far bigger is both an astonishment and a sin. It may be, though, that in the case of The Jayhawks, it’s a case of too much sugar, and in the case of Wilco, too much spice. Golden Smog bring the two extreme talents together, mix them with a few other like-minded musicians and have whipped up the musical equivalent of a tasty vatted whisky.Seek out Weird Tales (which is sometimes sold as a budget double pack with Down By The Old Mainstream) as a reference point. This is a reflective album, the collected reminisces of a man driving on a long and lonely American road recalling past failures and incomplete dreams. It’s summed up perfectly on opening track To Call My Own: Bought the farm on a dead end street. Nothing ever grows under your sun.Filling voids with emptiness driving past your old address.Loneliness two has turned into one.From there the respective songwriters sing of broken relationships and brief moments when life was better. Take the bluntly named Lost Love, for instance: Lost love on the highway, lost love on the phone. Lost love with a suitcase. Heading back home Where hearts break in the summer. Where they meet in the spring.Mine’s still wrapped inside me. But I don’t feel a thing If all this sounds like one of those terribly depressing country things, think again.As any admirer of The Jayhawks knows, Gary Louris can’t help be jolly and though you know that the up-beat Until You Came Along, lyrically a pretty standard take on the ‘problem drinker turned happy lover’ theme, will be followed immediately by Tweedy’s moody Lost Love, it’s enough to keep the album flowing along.So how will it all end? Happy or sad? Up or down?Well it’s a score draw, but Louris does get the last word, cowriting the self explanatory Jennifer Save Me with Kraig Johnson: It’s time to face the music, but they never taught me how to dance I’d give you everything I’ve got if you’d give me half the chance Will she or won’t she? Sure she will. Come off the road son, go and talk to her. It’s what Gary at least would have wanted.Bronze Smog: Monkey Shoulder Smooth and tasteful with three big players in the mix – perfect
Silver Smog : Gentleman Jack More sophisticated and tasteful than we might be used to,this is a stylish take on an established name
Golden Smog :Russell:Rare Breed
Find a room with a landscape view. Pour a drop of this pearl. Let Golden Smog wash over you and let your mind take a holiday.Feels good,doesn’t it.