Doug Martsch

Record Review

Phases and Stages

Doug Martsch

Now You Know (Warner Bros.)

When a guitarist like Doug Martsch, the man behind indie rock institution Built to Spill, starts messing around with a musical form as distinct as Southern blues, something's bound to happen. What's happened is Now You Know, his first solo album, a collection of tunes inspired by a fleeting obsession with blues legends like Mississippi Fred McDowell and John Lee Hooker. This isn't to say that Martsch has made a blues albums. That would be stupid. No, this is all Doug Martsch, some songs unadorned acoustic numbers played slide-style with vocals (the grim opener "Offer"), some songs with minimal percussive accompaniment (the wistful "Gone"), and some songs that would be perfectly at home on a Built to Spill release (the cello-flavored anthem "Impossible"). Through the hands and mind of a rock guitarist and songwriter who's established his own unique style and sound, experiments with slide acoustic have yielded a strange and fascinating turn from the wailing Stratocaster dialogues that usually pour from his strings. Sometimes delicate picking numbers, sometimes wild flurries of sliding notes, once even a damn-near-bluegrass stomp ("Window"), Now You Know is most definitely a departure, but the source is completely, wonderfully recognizable. (Doug Martsch plays the Mercury, Tuesday, Oct. 22.)


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 Music Reviews
Texas Platters
... And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead
X: The Godless Void and Other Stories (Record Review)

Alejandra Ramirez, Feb. 21, 2020

Texas Platters
Daniel Johnston
Chicago 2017 (Record Review)

Raoul Hernandez, Feb. 21, 2020

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

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