Reviewed by Scott Jordan, Fri., May 3, 2019
Pinkville's cover art and opening title track augur the Vietnam War, but this is an arresting South Louisiana apocalypse. Bayou brooder turned Austinite, Rod Melancon's intense drawl and yawp paints literary psych-ward sketches of dank truck stops, sketchy pills, broken backs, and Iraq War veterans. It's musically pitched to Gurf Morlix's Gulf Coast ("Corpus Christi Carwash") with echoes of late Shreveport hoodoo John Campbell's dirge trances ("Rehabilitation"). Still, redemption lurks in Tom Waits' "Goin' Out West" and the maniacal, self-deprecating shuffle of "Manic Depression." The album's stomping masterstroke is "Westgate," a Southern Gothic populated with small-town cops, zonked jocks, neon green Trans Ams, Section 8 housing, and an alluring vision in a Blue Öyster Cult T-shirt. Bonus points for a numbing, lo-fi cover of Springsteen's "57 Channels" and the scrappy rockabilly rumble of clever Tom Petty tribute "The Heartbreakers."