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Lo-fi Americana weirdo Russell Hoke keeps sending us records with grubby handmade covers and music which I think it’s fair to say divides office opinion. Phil thinks he’s a country-fried Daniel Johnston-style idiot savant genius while others are not so kind. Anyway, on this record we’ve got collected home recordings from 1982-93 featuring Mark Semmes of the Rejects and Lung Overcoat alongside Hoke and Anonymous. I’m not sure why it’s taken so long to come out on vinyl, and can only speculate that it has been shrewdly timed to coincide with the sudden rise of popularity that Anonymous has been experiencing of late.
Anyway, with this being a band effort it’s actually quite fleshed out and varied, opening with a strangely inviting passage of feedback and drum machine before settling into an experimental style somewhere between druggy ‘60s British pastoral psychedelia and lo-fi Americana, with earnest vocals and weird, shuffling grooves. It’s all very analogue so if you like things that have been recorded onto tape then you’ll be happy to know that all these tracks come from tape recorders (both cassette and video) and reel-to-reels.
My personal highlight of the album comes at the start of the second side with the Hoke-penned instrumental ‘Angelic Choir on a Winter Night’, which combines twangy banjo with smooth analogue synth twinkles to excellent effect. I’m finding this whole album more accessible than I expected, although there are still some “difficult” experimental excursions like ‘Doll On A Burning Cross’ which is largely a weird looped guitar phrase and vocal warblings over what the liner notes tell me is the sound of a knock-off GI Joe being burned with kerosene. It’s not for everybody but if you’re into your weird experimental folk outsiders then it’s a worthwhile listen.
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