Wednesday, March 2, 2016

CD Preview: Jimbo Mathus’ Band of Storms

Jimbo Mathus' Band of Storms
You just never know where Jimbo Mathus’ restless muse is going to take him, so every new recording from the talented Mississippi native is an adventure. On May 6th, 2016, Mathus fans can ride the roller-coaster when Big Legal Mess, via Fat Possum Records, releases the nine-song EP Band of Storms.

Characterized by Mathus in a press release for the new record as “just some offs and ends…you know, folk music,” Band of Storms is said to feature an inspired mix of garage-rock, blues, honky-tonk, R&B, and other American music forms. “It’s just a continuation of the work I’ve been doing for, shoot, the past 20 years,” Mathus says. “There’s no big overall, arching thing. It’s just random notes out of my brain.”

The EP’s cover art is by Erika Jane Amerika, the artist capturing the vibe of the songs with her portrait of Mathus standing in a cypress swamp with a guitar in one hand and a fiery bible in the other, with an alligator at his feet alongside his Catahoula dog and a snake-handling Yemayá (the “great mother” of Santeria religion). The folksy cover art of Band of Storms accurately portrays the theme of Mathus’ songs, of which he says “it’s dealing with nature – forces beyond us – and trying to sum it up in my little cave paintings that we call recorded songs.”
Band of Storms was recorded at Dial Back Sound, the Water Valley, Mississippi studio owned by Fat Possum Records partner Bruce Watson. Mathus records at the studio frequently, and he’s joined on the EP by a talented group of multi-instrumentalist musicians like Ryan Rogers, Eric Carlton, Will McCarley, Jim Spake, and Stu Cole, among others, who helped create what Mathus calls a “primal Southern groove.” Eight of the nine songs were written by Mathus, with “Play With Fire” co-written with Mathus’ late friend Robert Earl Reed.

The songs on Band of Storms range from the garage-rockin’ “Massive Confusion,” an homage to bands like the Ramones and the Replacements, where Mathus notes the unlikely rhyming of “Yemayá” with “FBI,” and odd pairing to be sure. “I wrote it when I was getting audited by the IRS and I was trying to save my fuckin’ ass,” says Mathus. “It’s just super-punk rock. I came up in the ’80s and the Replacements turned me on to songwriting. They showed me that I could actually write songs. I’m 48, but I’m still a punk rocker.” Other songs on the EP include the bluesy “Can’t Get Much Higher,” the twangy Southern Gothic “Stop Your Crying,” and the Celtic-inspired “Wayward Wind.”

Jimbo Mathus never disappoints, so circle May 6th on your calendar and get ready to part with some coin for a copy of Band of Storms, nine brand new songs by one of Americana’s most imaginative and exciting artists.