The Damnations

SXSW Records

Phases and Stages

The Damnations

Where It Lands (Joy-Ride) Alt.country. There. Now that's said, this can be said, and said honestly: Austin's Damnations have made that term meaningless with this, the long-awaited follow-up to 1999's much-loved Half Mad Moon. As ever, country and rock & roll are the life force flowing beneath the flesh of their music. But no musician who's a fan of music can limit input and influence to those two things, big as they may be. Soul music, blues music, pop music -- everything creeps into the consciousness of such people at some point. The shrewd hang on to all of it. The Damnations are shrewd. Time-tested favorites such as Doug Sahm's "Wanna Be Your Mama" and their own rave-up "Bloodhound" get proper treatment, but so do flat-out rockers like "New Hope Cemetery" and the Minutemen standard "Corona." Rob Bernard channels the sound and passion of John Lennon more effectively than any current Beatle-wannabe-Brit-pop-nonsense in the straightforward "Root On" and haunting "Animal Children." Deborah Kelly mesmerizes on the mellotron-laced "Steeple Full of Swallows," a gorgeous tune by the Gourds' Kevin Russell that's granted a rebirth here. Songs sung by Kelly's sister Amy Boone are most prominent, like opener "All Night Special," "Quarter in the Couch," a slow, sexy shuffle, and "Time to Go Home," an outstanding song by any standard. This album takes getting used to, but it's all there -- country, and all its alternatives. (Saturday, March 16, Continental Club, 11pm)

***

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