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The Jimmyriggers – I Stand in the Weeds (2011) – Album Review

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The Jimmyriggers – I Stand in the Weeds (2011) – Album Review

The Jimmyriggers Album Review

 

 

Band: The Jimmyriggers
Album: I Stand in the Weeds (2011)
Genre: Roots Rock/Alt-Country
Influences: The Jayhawks, Uncle Tupelo, Blue Rodeo
Rating: 4/5
By: Lee Mellor

 

 

Standing in the weeds, Staring at the stars…

Montreals The Jimmyriggers have always struck me as one of the most underrated bands in the city: melodic, unpretentious, aesthetically diverse, and great lovers of song. When their debut album Travelling Salesman, Killer on the Run was released in 2007, I was not only disappointed by the recording quality, but the fact that the treatment had rendered corpses of so many promising songs. Though I worried the band had lost momentum, in 2011, I happened to be in Toronto for the release of their second album I Stand in the Weeds, and left the show that night with a headful of melodies, and a copy of their latest disc. In the months since, I have become convinced that I Stand in the Weeds is the best roots rock album released in 2011, independently or otherwise.

This collection of thirteen songs kicks off with Sleepwalking, guitarist Andre Kirchhoffs jangly mid-tempo commentary on the numbing experience of day to day life. Shallower music fans might object to the cynicism of the theme, but far from wallowing in despair, Kirchhoffs honesty and romanticization of lifes imperfections, connects with the listener. The hooky baritone guitar riff and harmony-laden vocals deepen these feelings of solidarity. Next we launch into bass player David Pearces Half in Shadow: darker, pulsing and an ideal follow-up. Unlike Kirchhoffs writing, which expresses comfort in resignation, Pearces numbers acknowledge the same deterministic reality, but desire to transcend it. His Lay Me Over the Water, the third track, continues on this theme in the form of a slow lament. Here Pearce is at his lyrical best: Both pockets bare/a life that went nowhere/you couldnt kick this smile from off my face/Years of living tired/left me uninspired/but fate has finally put me in my place. Producer Mark Goodwin made the wise but difficult decision of letting Kirchhoff handle the lead vocals. His stirring tenor, combined with Rick Hayworth’s tasty pedal steel, make this one of the strongest recordings on the album.

Its good times as we continue through the up-beat bar diddy Im Gonna Make Her Mine and balls out rocker Jack the Fatalist to Pearces next gut-spilling ballad One Man Divided: comparable to Lay Me Over the Water in quality, but it takes a few more listens to get. Count Your Blessings Till the Hangman Cometh and Modern Warfare are decent but forgettable additions. Fortunately, Kirchhoffs haunting Rattle My Cage revives the album with sorrowful vocals, wailing harmonica, poetic lyrics and the kind of instinctual non-contrived chord progression that touches on genius. Though the Rolling Stones cover Connection is actually superior to the original, the song remains more or less an obstacle on the way to greater tunes. Fortunately, the singalong Thieves and Beggars picks things back up, preparing us for the final two songs on the album: The 27th of December and I Stand in the Weeds – both penned by Kirchhoff. With its simple yet unforgettable acoustic guitar line and unorthodox rhythm, the former continues in the same vein as Rattle My Cage, only it’s better. I have yet to meet a songwriter who does winter quite like Andre Kirchhoff. I Stand in the Weeds concludes with the title track, a simple gospel song, which would seem anti-climactic after The 27th of December if not for the incredible vocal arrangements by Goodwin. As the song reaches its crescendo, it becomes clear that this final ray of optimism is the perfect resolution to a highly introspective and revealing record. The Jimmyriggers may be standing in the weeds, but they’re gazing up at the stars. There is beauty in both.

 

The Good: Evocative songwriting; stellar production; musical diversity; harmonies; glorious pedal steel

 

The Bad: Two songs too many; questionable track order

 

The Ugly: The Jimmyriggers are one of those bands that avoids playing the hipster card. For that reason, they may have a tougher time building a following, as their appeal is based on the quality of their work, not their ability to fill a room with kids who dress the same.
http://www.myspace.com/thejimmyriggers

Review by: Lee Mellor

THE SCENE


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