Record Reviews

Phases and Stages


Co-balt (Widespread) A strange pairing, sure, but diminutive songwriting genius Vic Chesnutt and beefy jammers Widespread Panic have been connected since at least 1993, when they teamed up for the first release under the Brute moniker, Nine High a Pallet. Where that one was quirky and full of odd little tunes, Co-balt is fairly polished roots-pop that makes good use of the outstanding musicianship of Widespread Panic and the singular songwriting talents of Chesnutt. It's a big rock band sound made personable by the focus on Chesnutt's voice and lyrics, both of which survive immersion in fleshy arrangements relatively unscathed. More bellowing and less warbling, perhaps, but there are flashes of brilliance here, like the cool resignation of "Cutty Sark," and the freaky grind of "Puppy Sleeps." "Adirondacks" is a rave-up that doesn't really fit into the catalog of either involved party, and the title track is, on the surface at least, such high-reaching pop that it seems far too upbeat to have come from this pairing. Then again, maybe that's the point. It's not the sum of the parts that makes Brute an appealing project, but rather the creation of something new from two well-established pop entities. (Widespread Panic play the Backyard Thursday, July 18, and Friday, July 19. July 20 is sold out.)


A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 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 Music Reviews
Texas Platters
Warm Sugar
Warm Sugar (Record Review)

Doug Freeman, March 22, 2019

Texas Platters
Oh Boy (Record Review)

Elise Barbin, March 22, 2019

More by Christopher Hess
Phases & Stages
Rob Halverson
Second Whirled (Record Review)

Feb. 4, 2005

Phases and Stages
Stratford 4
Love and Distortion (Record Review)

March 14, 2003

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

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

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