Friday, May 15, 2009

Chuck Ragan and Austin Lucas - Bristle Ridge

Ok, this is a little past topical, but JS-NYC has been dealing with some technological issues and is playing a little catch-up. You can take small consolation in the fact that JS-NYC HQ is now fully 5.1 surround compliant, a format tailor-made for those who lives are consumed with poorly recorded records and/or downloads. In smaller, but no less relevant issues, my R key is working again. Let's hope the number 5 is next.

That duly covered, Bristle Ridge is the first release on (sort of) ex-Hot Water Music singer Chuck Ragan's Ten Four Records. Co-ran with his significant-other, the record dropped last Fall. Rather than the throat shredding stuff that you would expect from HWM, Bristle Ridge is a bluegrass-inflected collaboration with current JS-NYC obsession Austin Lucas. Backed by Lucas family scion Bob, along with Jon Gaunt and Digger Barnes, Ragan and Lucas work through a dozen old-timey numbers with varying results.

Everything is proficient, with good harmonies and keening fiddle. I will add my far-from-new and/or original caveat regarding the boatload of older punks going folk to maintain continuity. I like Chuck. He is a hell of a nice guy, and his heart is in the right place, but his material pales a bit when compared to Austin Lucas. Live AL favorite Sun or Snow appears here, and it's as wonderful as you would expect. His high pure voice makes the track and Bristle Ridge for me. Songs like Cold Night show an odd Ragan vocal tendency toward Tom Jones that is mildly disconcerting for me, but I would venture that I'm one of the only old bastards that would associate the two. The duet stuff, like Hold My Bed and Simple Life, fares a little better to these ears, but you would do well to check Bristle Ridge out yourself. It's only $10 bones and you can get it here

It's been a minute since Bristle Ridge dropped and the gents have not been idle. Chuck's got a new record in this vein coming soon on Side One Dummy, you can keep track of it's progress here. Austin is on it, but while you're waiting for it to drop, pick up his latest Somebody Loves You from the good folk of Suburban Home and keep tabs on him here.


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