American Aquarium – Burn.Flicker.Die
Ye and indeed Ha! Alt-Country has just spawned another great group
With a vocalist that spits out the lyrics, two gnarly guitars, a rhythm section that is as tight as a ducks bum and songs that are so honest, most groups can only dream of writing them, American Aquarium have nothing to fear with the release of their Jason Isbell-produced fifth album.
All of those years touring the dive bars of the Southern and Central States have paid off with a pretty much perfect Alt-Country album about Rock and Roll casualties, small towns, lost loves, broken dreams and every addiction known to man.
Their collective cap is most certainly thrown into the ring with the opening bars of album opener, Cape Fear River and the autobiographic song itself is pretty damn fine too.
Abe Lincolnis a 21st Century Rock and Roll love song that rolls along like Hurricane Sandy as the relationship crumbles before our eyes and ears.
There’s nothing new about what American Aquarium do; it’s the way that they do it that makes BURN.FLICKER.DIE so damn good. Singer BJ Barham has an ageless, world-weary/angry voice and the guitar licks he exchanges with Ryan Johnson are as good as anything I’ve heard in 20 years. Plus, Whit Wright’s pedal steel will bring a tear to a glass eye if he’s not careful.
I love the way they slipped in Jacksonville without any warning. This is as Country as Alt gets with a tale of addiction that punches you between the eyes, yet makes you want to give the singer a great big hug to make him feel better.
Things slow down with the story of a ‘player’ getting too old and eventually having his own heart broken (Northern Lights) and, again, Wright’s pedal steel carries a good song across the ocean to the Valhalla of truly great Country songs (even without an Alt at the front).
You just know that Barham couldn’t have written title track Burn.Flicker.Die without having trailed his guitar case from club to bar to club to bar playing for ungrateful patrons night after night for years upon years. But, his own light still appears to flicker and this album just might be the one to get American Aquarium’s name up in the neon lights that he dreams of.
Released December 10th