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Thursday, November 06, 2008


Another Review, in Which Our Dirty Little Secret Is Revealed...

3rd Coast Music has discovered something about us we had been planning on telling you ourselves. It's just, things move so fast, you know? You promise yourself you'll come clean and then keep waiting for that perfect moment. Well now we know that perfect moment never comes. If we could, we'd go back in time and do it all different. Because it's true, and we wish we could have told you in person...we are lesbian vampires!!!

"Joan Baez's version of
Long Black Veil (In Concert Pt 2, 1963) was unsettling and not in a good way, t he song just flat didnt' work for a female singer, unless "I had been in the arms of my best friend's wife" was intended to be a rather bizarre subversive lesbian statement. However, though the Lefty classic has been recorded by, among others, Marianne Faithful, Hazel Dickens, Joni Mitchell and Sammi Smith, 45 years later, it still doesn't work for Axton Kincaid's Kate Howser.

That apart, there's lots to love about Howser's quintet, formed in the Bay Area now based in Portland, OR, none of whom are called Axton or Kincaid, and one of whom, steel guitarist Mac Martine only plays on three tracks. The three part harmonies iwth Jennifer Daunt (electric guitar, mandolin) and Ryan Waggoner (bass) are just gorgeous and the original songs, mostly by Howser solo or in combo with some or all of the band, are almost unnecessarily good for a band with such a great, fluid, unfussy ensemble sound (what's more, you can hear the words clear as a bell).

Howser and Daunt's background is playing together in various no name Bay Area indie rock bands [ed note: ouch!], Waggoner and drummer Jon Fojtik played together in Fojtik's father's rural Michigan wedding band, which seems a rather unlikely combination for what started out as more bluegrass (
Songs from the Pine Room, Free Dirt, 2007), but has evolved into country.

It's easy to make fun of not-kids-anymore who think they can transition from indie or punk to country, as the results are so often glaringly awful, neither fish nor fowl, but it has to be said that occasionally some of them pull it off, bringing fresh approaches and sensibilities to the genre without trying to reinvent it.

I've just learned from Howser that Axton is a homage to Hoyt Axton and Kincaid "would've been my dream name for a kid, but instead it became a band name." On minor oddity about the group is that they seem very camera-shy. I'm not asking for a fold-out poster, but there are no pix on the CD and a few very small ones on the website. Well, that's different, I guess."
posted by axton kincaid #


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