Review: Butchers Blind – Play for the Films (Paradiddle, 2011)
Butchers Blind – Play for the Films (Paradiddle, 2011)
This Long Island trio dropped a few demo tracks in 2009 (reviewed here), promoting the catchy “One More Time” into a single and attracting some local attention. They’ve returned with a full album that leans on both their alt.country and rock roots. The Wilco influence is strong (unsurprising, given the band is named after one of Wilco’s lyrical creations), and Pete Mancini’s voice favors the reediness of Jeff Tweedy; but there’s also a melancholy in his delivery that suggests Chris Bell, and a soulful bottom end in the rhythm section that gives the band plenty of rock flavor. Mancini’s latest songs were inspired by travel journals kept by his father, as well as his own cross-country travels. From the opening “Brass Bell” you can feel the wanderlust, the urge to blow town, the expectation of the journey ahead and the confidence of someone young enough to enjoy (or at least react to) the moment.
The previously released “One More Time,” is repeated here at a faster tempo, adding a measure of urgency to the road’s opportunities and challenges. There’s discord and difficult choices, and emotional dead-ends magnified by the relentless closeness of travel. Communication shuts down, relationships split, and roundtrips don’t always end in the same emotional spot they began. The album tips its hat to Steve Earle, as “Highway Song” opens with the signature guitar riff of “Devil’s Right Hand,” but where Earle’s early work, especially Guitar Town, pictured small town inhabitants dreaming of escape, Mancini’s protagonists are looking back from the road. The album closes with “Never Changing Thing,” a letter home filled with the growing realization that a return trip may not be in the cards. It’s a fitting end to an album of emotional changes wrought by physical travel, and physical changes wrought by emotional travel.