Hard to believe Holly Golightly's been doing this rock 'n' roll thing for almost 20 years. In a long list of things that make me feel old, add her tenure as a viable musical act.
I've been a fan of Golightly ever since the first Headcoatees record, Girlsville, came out way back in 1991. When she went solo in 1995 with The Good Things, my Holly fandom shot to a new level. She put several more excellent records throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, culminating with Truly She Is None Other in 2003.
Since then, it's been hit-and-miss as she's continued to move away from her distinctly British sound, an amalgamation of Kinks-y pop and Troggs-y garage, to dabbling in American idioms like blues and country. Since 2003, she's been collaborating with a lot of American musicians, including Jack White, The Greenhornes, and her newest foil, Lawyer Dave (a.k.a. The Brokeoffs), the Texas guitarist with whom she has made three records.
Their latest, Medicine County, is Holly Golightly's most American-sounding collection of songs yet. In that sense, it's Golightly's Exile on Main Street. In fact, a lot of Medicine County sounds like it's playing through an early-70s Stones filter.
The strength of the record is Golightly's voice. She's not a great singer, by conventional standards anyway. But her world-weary, melancholy delivery suits these country-garage laments well. Lawyer Dave sings a lot, too, and he sounds a little bit like John Doe of X.
I'm ready for Holly Golightly to return to British garage rock, but I have a feeling she's stuck in this country for a while.
Note: Holly Golightly and the Brokeoffs will be performing Monday, April 12, at Plush in, yes, Tucson. And while we're on the topic of Holly Golightly in concert, I'll share a personal bias. A band I played in opened for Holly Golightly in 2002 at Milwaukee's Cactus Club. Needless to say, I was excited, because she was one of my favorite artists at the time. We opened the show. The middle band was The Greenhornes, an Ohio band whose core members went on to be in the Raconteurs and Dead Weather, played for well over an hour. By the time Holly took the stage, it was 12:30 and she was wasted -- to the point where she could barely play. Nearly every song collapsed in on itself, and she cut the show short after about seven songs. Weak.
Best song: "Murder in My Mind," a darkly funny murder ballad set to an upbeat chord progression.
Deja vu: A far-less-nasty Exile
I'd rather listen to: Any of Holly's first nine LPs
"Nothing Not New" is a yearlong project in which New Times editorial operations manager Jay Bennett, a 40-year-old music fan and musician, will listen only to music released in 2010. Each Monday through Friday, he will listen to one new record (no best ofs, reissues, or concert recordings) and write about it. Why? Because in the words of his editor, Martin Cizmar, he suffers from "aesthetic atrophy," a wasting away of one's ability to embrace new and different music as one ages. Read more about this all-too-common ailment here.
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