New Multitudes

New Multitudes (Rounder)

Texas Platters

New Multitudes


Like Mermaid Avenue, the two-part collaboration between Wilco and Billy Bragg, New Multitudes is a resilient tribute to Woody Guthrie based on the folk pioneer's unpublished lyrics. That's where the similarities end. This project pulls together four more songwriting stalwarts of and indie rock in Son Volt's Jay Farrar, Centro-matic/South San Gabriel leader and local Will Johnson, My Morning Jacket shaman Yim Yames, and Varnaline's Anders Parker, all of whom have a shared history worthy of a flowchart. In that regard, New Multitudes' foursome closely resembles Monsters of Folk; it's a complimentary collective born of mutual trust and admiration, wherein each songwriter puts his distinct stamp on Guthrie's catalog. For his part, Johnson's stark ballad "Chorine My Sheba Queen" aches with tender despair, haunted by Yames' shadowy harmony, while his visceral "V.D. City" sounds like an outpost from Centro-matic's Fort Recovery, the singer spitting with disgust: "There's a street name for every disease here." Likewise, Farrar stretches the words to the golden-hued proverb "Hoping Machine," originally taken from a journal entry, in a manner that recalls his work on One Fast Move or I'm Gone: Kerouac's Big Sur. Yames approaches the acoustic "Talking Empty Bed Blues" with the solemn clarity of MMJ's At Dawn demos. In doing so, New Multitudes brings out many sides of Guthrie – that of fleeting romantic (Farrar's "Careless Reckless Love"), master of character sketches (Parker's barbed romp "Angel's Blues"), and radical poet, as in Yames' sexually liberated "My Revolutionary Mind," which turns on midway like White Album-era Beatles. Guthrie's complex and often contradictory nature is most apparent in the LP's late pairing of fatal incantations: Johnson's "No Fear" and Yames' woolly "Changing World," the former approaching death unflinchingly and the latter rattling apprehension.


More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
The Crack Pipes
Beauty School (Record Review)

Michael Toland, Oct. 20, 2017

Texas Platters
Milligan Vaughan Project
Milligan Vaughan Project (Record Review)

Raoul Hernandez, Sept. 1, 2017

More by Austin Powell
Record Review: The Young
Record Review: The Young

Aug. 22, 2014

Pickathon Polishes Off No. 16
Pickathon Polishes Off No. 16
Oregon fest boasts IPAs, ATXs, camping, and sustainability

Aug. 4, 2014


New Multitudes

AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2017

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)