Thursday, January 15, 2004


Wonderful news: the new Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers album is released Saturday, almost exactly two years after the band came out with Sonoran Hope and Madness, a stunning record. The buzz, locally at least, is very good.
I've always been a big fan of Roger Clyne, a great lyricist and bandleader. The band really thrives on stage and I'm excited for another album mostly to learn a bunch of new songs in anticipation for a live show.
Clyne is known to bust out three and a half hour shows, running through most of his catalogue, including the always-popular Refreshments material. And the covers "American Girl," "Pancho and Lefty," "Rosalita," "Kodochrome," "Train in Vain," "Dukes of Hazzard" are spot on.
On Sonoran Hope and Madness Clyne really started expanding his lyrics, digging more into the dirt and dust of the Southwest and its people. He doesn't hide behind anything but a beer bottle. He's at the same time mystical and cynical: "Give me hope! Ah, sweet madness! Struggle, volcanoes and iron and sadness!" Using "Sonoran" in the title echoes both the wide, sweeping landscapes of Southern Arizona and the dusty magic of the Mexican state. "Ashes of San Miguel" is a heartfelt tale of friendship and nostalgia, "I got the ashes of my best friend in a cremation jar on the shotgun seat of the car." The album's peaks are in the density Clyne achieves writing about his greatest heartaches - the desert, dying beneath the ugly greed of progress ("machines will not make sweeter dreams"), and the loss of friends and the oft-adventurous, oft-liesurely days of youthful exploration ("one last tour through our happy, happy hunting grounds").
Enough words on the old album, I'm itchin' to hear the new one...