If someone had said even a year ago that Sub Pop Records, inflictors of all that was grunge upon the world, would become the leaders of the indie-folk and raw alt-country movements (as opposed to the smoothed-out Ryan Adams variety), I’d have laughed in their face. Sure, Damien Jurado was on the roster, but he was a punk at heart who had gone all folky after signing his contract. Let it be said, however, that recent releases from Rosie Thomas, Iron And Wine, Ugly Casanova, and now Denton’s Baptist Generals have made a believer out of me.
This new 4 song EP — their first for Sub Pop following an earlier release on Quality Park — is meant as a teaser for their new full-length record due in February. Consider me teased. The band has expanded some on their sound with the addition of a fourth member and some keyboards, while still maintaining true to their rawer-than-raw recording ethic and singer Chris Flemmons’ adenoidal whine. Not since the early 80s and Gord Gano at his peak has someone managed to sing so much through his nose and make it sound good.
Generals songs exist in some strange time warp. The music and the recordings sound as if they were lifted straight from some obscure collection of field recordings from the 20s and 30s, with all the degradation and tape decay left gloriously uncorrected. Tape hiss? You bet. Microphone crackles? Room noise? Random thumps and crashes? Absolutely. This is country-folk music fresh from the fields, still crusted in dirt and sweat from a day’s hard work and absolutely refusing to get all cleaned up to suit the demands of MTV.
Lyrically, the Baptist Generals seem lifted from another era as well. Rape, murder, and dismemberment all figured prominently on their first record and they show no signs of leaving those themes behind this time out. The second song, listed here as simply “Jim’s Head,” is actually a new recording of the more accurately titled “2/3rds Jim’s Head” from their first release. It tells the story of a man who rode his motorcycle into a barbed wire fence. That pretty much tells you all you need to know as far as where these guys are coming from.
Given Sub Pop’s tendency to reuse tracks from their teaser EPs on full-lengths, chances are that only one or two songs on this disc will remain exclusive to the EP. But if you’re looking for a taste of what’s to come, Void Touching Faster Victuals is one fine release.
Written by Chris Brown.