Austin-based experimental/avant-garde blues band Churchwood continue their streak of winning albums with Hex City, their fourth full-length release, out November 18th. This go-around finds them in a sardonic and playful mood with great new tunes including ‘One Big White Nightmare’, ‘Hainted’ and ‘Sag’ as the band weaves a spell of musical voodoo around the tongue twisting, multi-lingual lyrics of Joe Doerr.
Churchwood is recommended for those who favor artists such as Captain Beefheart, Nick Cave and Tom Waits – who push the lyrical and musical boundaries of the blues form. The CD package includes cover art by Jon Langford and 12-page booklet.
On their 2011 debut album, Churchwood “found its groove near the Dadaland exit off Highway 61.” The visionary quintet followed that up with “2”, designed to intensify their potent musical mojo with 10 intoxicating swamp water shots of truly 21st Century rocking blues that’s “dense and nasty, literate and mean,” says Lone Star Music. And “played with a butcher knife: sharp and greasy with the potential to draw blood,” observes the San Antonio Express-News. The bracing sound on the group’s third outing “Trickgnosis” defied easy classification yet it inspired vivid description. Yes, it’s blues as deep as the Delta roots of Johnson, Skip James, Mississippi John Hurt and Big Bill Broozy, who inspired guitarist/co-founder Bill Anderson to initially attack the six strings of the guitar as a teen, later to land in Austin and first play with the town’s seminal bluesy punk pioneers Poison 13 as well as Prohibition and a host of other groups, helping to define the end of the punk spectrum that is inspired by murder ballads.
One also feels the lysergic musical expansionism of Captain Beefheart and Nick Cave, the interweaving high-wattage wires of such mind-bending electric guitar groups as Television and Sonic Youth, the growl and groove of Howlin’ Wolf and the big bouncing Bo Diddley beat, the rock’n’roll thunderclaps of Led Zeppelin, the big-band wham of T Bone Walker, Little Walter’s moaning and wailing harp and the back porch mesmerism of Mance Lipscomb on a battered acoustic… all that and much more. Plus a poetry slam between the French symbolist and American Beat poets fueled by absinthe and hashish within the lyrics of singer/co-founder Joe Doerr – a noted published poet, college professor and veteran rocker who first made his mark in the early 1980s as Kid LeRoi in the long-running Texas roots music powerhouse The LeRoi Brothers on two albums of what Trouser Press describes as “solidly American music given a sweaty workout.”
Churchwood is the dream band for longtime musical compatriots Anderson and Doerr, who first united in the 1980s Austin group Ballad Shambles that morphed into Hand of Glory, praised by Trouser Press as “a diverse and exciting quartet” and “strikingly potent band… mixing up cowboy rock, blues, Doorsy atmospherics and more with confidence and creativity.” Their two albums on Skyclad Records are now prized collectors items, and a chorus of those in the know rightly credit Hand of Glory with presaging the grunge rock sound that became the next big thing right at the time the band ended its run in 1992.