Shawn David McMillen
On the Clock with JJ & Mitch (12XU)
Reviewed by Greg Beets, Fri., June 19, 2015
The musical pursuit of feel remains a study in balance. Capture the energy, absorb its essence, release before suffocation. The slapdash psych-folk skywriting of Lake Jackson-bred guitarist McMillen (Rubble, Starving Weirdos) exemplifies the principle. Bassist Mitch Fraizer (Church Shoes) and drummer JJ Ruiz (Teeners) round out an erstwhile anti-power trio that moves conventional rock instrumentation beyond the box. Although recorded in New York, On the Clock... exudes the cotton-mouthed stultification of a stoned Texas summer. Songs cut from deep-seated country blues templates shamble blissfully through the heat haze, immunized against clams by the same god who protects drunks and fools. Eschewing pedal gee-whizardry, McMillen's phrasing finds emotive weight in air and strategic repetition. As a result, "Kick Off Your Shoes" squishes between the toes like fetid river bottom, and the instrumental "No Passport" rings triumphant like a left-field update of "Red River Valley." A lethargic maraca on "Keep On Knocking" approximates the rhythm of shoveled gravel from a worksong field recording, but this album is best suited to doing a whole lot of nothing.