Amigo the Devil Album Review
Born Against (Liars Club/Regime Music Group)
Singer-songwriters sprout like wildflowers in Texas, but none comparable to Amigo the Devil. On sophomore full-length Born Against, Danny Kiranos puts on the masks of a series of storytellers – some introspective, some romantic, some angry, some just plain crazed. Like Ed Hamell if he'd grown up in East Austin, he presents a tense situation in "Murder at the Bingo Hall" that becomes both bizarrely groovy and darkly hilarious. The boozy march "Quiet as a Rat" drags in what sounds like a Salvation Army band to point angry fingers at God, while rollicking banjo folk tune "24K Casket" pumps irreverence into the fear of death. Not everything parses out in measured distance, however, as spaghetti Western ballad "Different Anymore," the Scott Walker-esque "Another Man's Grave," and the stark "Letter From Death Row" pack pure emotional punch. While Kiranos relies on his acoustic guitar and soaring vocal grit, he surrounds himself with a bleary combo of widescreen arrangements and homegrown sound effects that pull him back from the brink of affectation. As much Tom Waits as Roy Orbison, both Amigo the Devil and Born Against expertly navigate the twisted path between a metaphorical heart on a sleeve and real live beating one bloodying up his flannel.