Review: Shinyribs, Transit Damage

Kevin Russell boomerangs back on supple, sultry full-band disc

"All the stages of pandemic – doom, tears, thankfulness, resolution – present and accounted for." So opined the Chronicle nearly two years ago about Shinyribs' deep-COVID solo flicker Late Night TV Gold. Boomeranging back on supple, sultry, deeply tuneful full-band follow-up Transit Damage, transit authority Kevin Russell revealed in-store at Waterloo Records earlier this month that it also manifested during lockdown. Finished February 2022, the Austin octet's seventh disc now emerges on L.A. imprint Blue Élan via local outlaw Jesse Dayton's subsidiary, Hardcharger Records. Cut at the late George Reiff's home studio J&M, overseen today by Band of Heathens' Gordy Quist, the new album earns production by Los Lobos' Steve Berlin, who stacks Hall of Fame ATX platters beginning with back-to-back millennials by Los Super Seven and including 2020 pairing Primates by the Greyhounds and Berlin Sessions from Brownout – plus peak Fastball, Marcia Ball, Sweet Spirit, and Grupo Fantasma. Sizzles starting at the cover art by Spicewood's jaw-dropping portraitist Jared Dunten, Transit Damage trafficks in cap city provenance at every juncture. Growling, rasping, buzzing with horn arrangements straight off an Atlantic Records or Stax classic, the LP builds a Southern-fried roots cycle around three-hole dinger "Dark Cloud," paean to a heroine of complex hues. Instant wedding staple (opener "Simply Belong to You"), I Threes' action from Shiny Soul Sisters Alice Spencer and Courtney Santana ("All the Best Things"), whistling wistfulness (side two touch-off "Reconsider It"), trademark Russell tongue twister ("Alphabeta"), heat relief under "Little Drops of Summer" (by Li'l Cap'n Travis), and a bowed grace note ("Kind"): adult love knots delivered through literacy, wit, resignation, joy. Transit Damage is that post-shutdown phoenix the greater arts promised us.


Transit Damage (Hardcharger)

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