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Dirty Fingernails, The Last Donkey Show, Nightmare on Silly Street

The Golden Boys and John Wesley Coleman III

Reviewed by Austin Powell, Fri., April 13, 2012

Texas Platters

The Golden Boys

Dirty Fingernails (12XU)

John Wesley Coleman III

The Last Donkey Show (Goner)

John Wesley Coleman III

Nightmare on Silly Street (Monofonus Press)

Punk in spirit, rifling through dirty R&B, outlaw country, and vintage pop, Austin's the Golden Boys embody every great idiom of rock & roll. Vinyl-hugging fifth album Dirty Fingernails harnesses the local quintet's raucous live fervor with a straight-to-tape aesthetic that's most evident in the re-recording of "Older Than You." Previously featured on 2010 Matador Records sampler Casual Victim Pile, this version of Matt Hoopengardner's tale of teenage kicks should be on the short list for perfect Texan tracks, pairing dual guitars with Bryan Schmitz's tumbling bass and a vocal hook worthy of Little Richard ("I can't afford another lover/I can't afford a pair of shoes"). That sense of wild desperation runs deep on Dirty Fingernails, "Out of the Park," the title cut, and "We Are Young" soundtracking eternal slacker summers along with the free-association punk-blues of "Daddy's Horsewife." Organist Nay Nay Arbietman lends "California" and "Run Away" a strong Seventies Memphis vibe, while the desert-tweakin' "Sidewalk" conjures Lee Hazlewood and "Curtains" choogles at maximum velocity. The band's junkyard poet, John Wesley Coleman III, prolific to a fault, seems to operate in reverse, recording first, then figuring out the song at some undetermined point in the future. His latest for Memphis' Goner Records, The Last Donkey Show, offers a scattershot collection of wobbly garage-psych ("Virgin Mary Queen"), broken country ("Misery Again"), and promising pop ("Hanging Around," "Don't Waste My Time"). By contrast, as part of an experiment for locals Monofonus Press, owner Morgan Coy remixed some of Coleman's demos and paired the results across a full-length LP, Nightmare on Silly Street. The result's an oddly charming fun-house mirror – weird and weirder. Coy deftly transforms scraggly, four-track ramblings into grandly skewed pop that, with the juvenile psychedelia of "Wild Zoo" and warped excellence imbuing "Curious Piano," suggest Daniel Johnston's pump organ blues. It's an ideal working relationship: Coleman throws a party and Coy cleans up the mess.

(Dirty Fingernails) ***.5

(Nightmare on Silly Street) **.5

(Last Donkey Show) **

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