Bad Scout readies to release outstanding debut album...soon, very soon
In August of this year I wrote a piece on the band Bad Scout. It was an expository feature detailing the inception of the band, their sound and influences, significant gigs and who in the band was most likely to sit up late at night, naked, eating cheese. There were also some brief allusions to an upcoming album.
Having already covered the minutiae of the band, there is no need to rehash it here. Instead. we’re going to dive headfirst in to the aforementioned album, now complete and nearly ready for human consumption.
One of the boldest and most influential writers of a generation once described Bad Scout as “languid and laidback,” going so far as to place them in the Lebowski universe. The acuity of that handsome young writer cannot be underestimated: Bad Scout IS about as languid and laidback as you can get, and they have proven it eight times over in this beautiful piece of work.
The opening track is “Trust Rust,” a sweetly minimalist piece comprised mostly of piano, hi-hat and snare, with plenty of open space to be explored by picked guitar chords and a mournful pedal steel. I will add that I first heard this tune on a cold, wet autumn afternoon and for optimal enjoyment I recommend you do the same.
“Girl on the River” makes for a bright, joyful second track, reminiscent (as several tracks are) of The Band or the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. A happy and affectionate anthem, it straddles the line between rock and country, so let’s call it rock, but “down home, back on the farm” rock. One could almost believe that the band rehearsed in a barn. Perhaps if they shot a music video, it could be set in a barn. There needs to be a barn somewhere, is what I’m saying.
“Mama’s Cancer” is a tragic tune, heartbreaking, and yet it manages to avoid being predictably maudlin. The fellows tackle a delicate and painful subject deftly, with lyrics that are honest and full of common sense. This is going to be the song that speaks deeply to a lot of people, I think.
If there is one tune on the album that does venture further in to the realm of country than the rest, it would have to be “Sweet Repose.” Still, it isn’t really country music. In truth, we bat around the term “country/western” as though the two words are synonymous, but this dreamy little lullaby of a tune is far more western than country.
Next up on the playlist is “Ardmore,” a song full of bright, crunchy guitar that needs to be heard on a tinny radio in an old pickup truck flying down the road (on the way to the barn). “Dyersburg, TN” takes it back down a notch, and for an album I keep trying to describe as “not country,” this tune sure has some country mojo at its heart, replete with plaintive fiddles and more pedal steel. The album swiftly shifts gears again with “Take Me Down,” another toe-tapping guitar tune.
The final tune is “Fired.” If it isn’t a tribute to T. Van Zandt, it certainly should be. Yes, I reference Van Zandt frequently in this column but hey, he’s just one of the greatest and most respected singer/songwriters of the 20th century so that’s going to happen, and these fellows have captured (whether they meant to or not) something of the spirit of the great Texas poet.
Beginning to end the album is well written, well produced and cohesive, covering a fair amount of territory, and when all is said and done, it’s just gorgeous. I still maintain that Bad Scout isn’t a country band, but rather a rock band with country in its soul. The songs are all honest little slices of “working man” life with a decidedly Southern flavor. It is rare indeed to hear a debut album with such maturity and depth.
This will be a worthy addition to the collection of any serious music lover. The band is currently engaged in a Kickstarter program to get completion funds for the album (the tracks are recorded and mixed but the final master is yet to be done) and I’ve already kicked in my $10. I highly recommend you do the same. It will be money well spent. Also, barns.