Brent Best and Will Johnson
Your Dog, Champ, and Swan City Vampires (Last Chance)
Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., Oct. 23, 2015
Brent BestYour Dog, Champ (Last Chance)
Will JohnsonSwan City Vampires (Undertow)
Brent Best and Will Johnson remain best known for fronting longstanding North Texas rock/roots acts in the former's Slobberbone, which leans in the direction of the Replacements, and the latter's now officially defunct Centro-matic, favoring more eclectic ideas. Your Dog, Champ, Best's long in the hopper, completely crowdfunded solo debut, finds him in storytelling mode worthy of the comparisons he's drawn to Southern storytellers like Larrys Brown and McMurtry. By contrast, Swan City Vampires counts as Johnson's fourth and his most diverse and unsettling work. Best straight forwardly says "Daddy Was a Liar" and talks of the dying "Aunt Ramona" from the perspective of a naive youngster. "(Made Us Feel Like) Kings" allows Johnson to lament Centro-matic's demise through a sun-streaked piano ballad. "Paradise, Basically" comes across as industrial damage. At times, both singer-songwriters emulate a sound that recalls Neil Young at his cosmic country finest, which is only to be expected from a couple of alt.country's Nineties protagonists.