January in the Rear View

Bonneville and Marah tussle.

Before January recedes too far in the rear view mirror, I wanted to point out two releases from last month worth checking out.

Ray Bonneville’s Goin’ by Feel (Red House) has an Austin connection, co-produced by Gurf Morlix and partially recorded here. Born in Canada and raised in the States, Bonneville's a songwriter and guitarist with a solid buzz among folkies of all stripes, and with this disc it’s easy to see why. A bluesman in the same vein as J.J. Cale and a storyteller like John Hiatt, his sixth disc is funky and dark, filled with interesting characters and spare yet solid grooves. In another Austin connection, “I Am the Big Easy,” a potent tribute to post-Katrina New Orleans, features Eliza Gilkyson on backing vocals. If you’ve never heard of Bonneville, this is an excellent introduction to his brand of gritty Americana.

Marah, one of the most unpredictable bands of the decade, embodied that title when they broke up days before a tour to promote latest Angels of Destruction! (Yep Roc). I’ve seen them put on one of the worst shows ever witnessed, but in the past few years they’ve lived up to the critical line of being the "last rock ’n’ roll band."

Angels is a worthy follow-up to 2005's impressive If You Didn’t Laugh You’d Cry, filled with barroom brawlers and nimble character sketches. Comparing the Bielanko brothers' band to Springsteen has become cliché, and while they certainly draw from the same well as the Boss, their punky roots have expanded and filled out a Replacements/Waterboys vibe. Who knows if the Philly boys will ever visit Texas again after imploding, but when they do I’ll be first in line.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Ray Bonneville
I  Am the Exceptional Drought
I Am the Exceptional Drought
Ray Bonneville quenches ‘Bad Man's Blood’ at the Cactus Cafe

Jim Caligiuri, Aug. 3, 2011

More by Jim Caligiuri
Carrie Elkin’s Life-and-Death Folk
Carrie Elkin’s Life-and-Death Folk
Her father's death and daughter's birth upped the stakes of the singer's finest work

April 14, 2017

SXSW Music Live: Richard Barone Presents Greenwich Village in the Sixties
SXSW Music Live: Richard Barone Presents Greenwich Village in the Sixties
Soft Boys, Youngbloods, Moby Grape, Brian Jones’ grandson, etc.

March 18, 2017


Ray Bonneville, Marah

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle