Sao Paulo Is So Last Year
Jerry Seinfeld used to joke about how you always skip over those first few pieces of bread in the loaf to get to that “good bread.” I’m a bit that way with music, skipping over those CD’s from last year in favor of the newest stuff and the really old stuff. In my music collection, there’s nothing so lonely as last year’s album that I really liked, but isn’t yet old enough to be a classic. I’ve been trying to do better lately, so as I stand by my mailbox waiting for the new Steve Earle and Jason Isbell CD’s, I’ve got the iPod tuned to some 2009-10 tunes for a change.
One “last year” CD was by the Deadstring Brothers. They are the band from Detroit and the UK that released Sao Paulo in the U.S. last year (I believe it was actually released overseas in 2009). I thought it was time to pull them back out and put them in the rotation again. I’m glad that I did.
If you don’t know the Deadstring Brothers, here’s an experiment: Listen to their CD Sao Paulo, then try to describe it to someone who hasn’t heard it without using any reference to the Rolling Stones. (Go ahead and try, but you won’t be able to do it.) Here’s a video of the title song:
Here’s a link to an American Songwriter Sessions piece on the group, with excellent audio recordings of several of their songs and an interview. As I listen to these guys, and read about them, it occurs to me that while they are rockers, there’s nowhere to catalog them, so they’re always referenced as alt-country. If they sound like the Stones, does that mean the Stones are alt-country? No, the Stones are the Stones. (And they’re really really old, people.) Problem is that groups that are not the Stones have no way to reach a broader audience with something like Exile On Main Street in today’s world (and Sao Paulo is compared to that album by several critics). What mainstream radio outlet would play something like that? [Side note here, it’s exciting to see what Shooter Jennings and the XXX guys are trying to do for artists that are too country for rock and too rock for country. Check out Adam Sheets post on this from earlier this year.]
Instead of moaning and groaning about mainstream radio and other things I can’t control, I’d rather Smile, which reminds me of another excellent Deadstring Brothers tune:
If you don’t have Sao Paulo, it would be a good acquisition. Not a bad song on the CD, and the comparisons to Exile On Main Street or at least that phase of the Stones are apt. I’ll leave you with this video, which is a bit older – it includes a female singer Masha Marjieh who’s no longer a “brother”, but she sure sounded good.
Sao Paulo is on Bloodshot Records.
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