Big Chris Gates & Gatesville

Record review

Texas Platters

Big Chris Gates & Gatesville

Ain't It Grand ... (Anodyne)

When punk rockers decide it's time to ease up on the lifestyle throttle, a distinct twang often accompanies their survivor stories: Jon Langford, Mike Ness, Supersuckers, Austin's own Shootin' Pains. There's something innately redemptive in steel guitars and blues progressions, because they always seem to give extra weight to accounts of the price rock & roll exerts on body and soul. Big Chris Gates would know, having spent several of his allotted nine lives with the Big Boys, Poison 13, Junkyard, Skatenigs, and Charter Bulldogs. The gravel in his throat lends gravitas to recollections of wilder days ("Round & Round"), his newfound appreciations of domesticity ("Signs of Life"), and "This Town." Getting sober doesn't mean going soft, however: rambunctious rockers "Independence Day" and "Southern Man" claim kinship with the Bottle Rockets and Drive-by Truckers. No fool, Gates knows what he's ultimately up against, saying as much on closer "Fade Away": "There ain't no way to stop, and there's no turning back, so I guess I'll just fade away." Until, that is, he vows, "Wouldn't quit if I could." Ain't It Grand ... treads familiar ground, but Gates' experience makes it feel genuine.

***

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