Giant Sand’s debut album,Valley Of Rain was originally released in 1985, although it was recorded some two years earlier. The band had started to play the songs on tour again, which made them think re-recording the album would be a good idea. They got the original line-up back together, augmented by two newer members and some proper equipment.
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So it’s come to this: a band called Giant Sand. Lord have mercy on us all. I am of course being facetious as these discordant cowpunks have been around since the mid-80s, so they have dibs on impossibly bad names. Largely the recording project of Howe Gelb, this celebratory remake of their ‘85 record ‘Returns to Valley of Rain’ reminds me how many bands owe themselves to the talk-back twang punk of Giant Sand; do you think the Hold Steady could’ve worked without this coming first?
Few bands could link up discordant guitar harmonics and chuggy sludge with pure, sizzling hooks, but Giant Sand made it work. I mean, that opener alone: “Tumble and Tear”, pal, is a mix-up of unwinding guitar riffs, tough-as-nails percussion and brief but everlasting melodies. As the record goes on, their rootsy rumble becomes a wide-eyed folklore, “Valley of Rain” providing a toothy kind of Americana in which riffs sound off like matches being lit.
If you want roots rock being blown over by the wind, there’s probably no better place to start than here. Giant Sand wanted you to hear the amps crumble and the breaks come off, and on ‘Returns to Valley of Rain’ they fostered a space between country music and a new, outlaw punk, Gelb talking his way through a record that’s both plaintive and painful.
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- Returns To Valley Of Rain by Giant Sand
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