The dude flying through the sky is Izaak Opatz, his album ‘Hot & Heavy Handed’ came out on Mama Bird Recordings Co. in December last year, and I’m just finding myself falling in love with it. If like me you love equal measures of big cheesy country hits, humorous honky-tonk laments and wry everyday observational lyrics, look no further. Opatz reworks modern hits such as ‘I left Something Turned On at Home’ (Trace Adkins), ‘You Look Like I Need A Drink’ (Justin Moore) and ‘Drunk On a Plane’ (Dierks Bentley) with a more down to earth, less cynical take on the originals. It’s impressive how well Opatz scuffs up these hilariously modern country hits and makes them his own. His own ‘Lubbock for Love’ hits the corny heart perfectly and sits nicely in the album, showing Opatz could give these glossy ranchers a run for their money. The whole album will get under your skin and into your head. If you want a rollicking truck jam, check out Opatzs’ other original ‘You Made a Country Singer out of Me’ for a revved-up, tongue in cheek tailgate party. This is country-pop the way it should be. For fans of Dougie Poole, Tim Hill, Daniel Romano, Bonnie Prince Billy and Silver Jews.
Check out the album below and throw a few dollars his way so we can have another round of this stuff!
El Rancho has been feeding new music through radio shows, playlists, mixes and sharing on socials for several years, it’s time to put a little down outside the algorithms and likes and get back to some writing. This isn’t for the first time, the El Rancho blog and website has come and gone with various domain name changes over the years and with intermittent consistency. But c’mon, consistency is lame, quality is crucial. So drop by in 2021 for some quality pickings from El Rancho, new and old. The only way I could begin this new voyage is with my favourite album of 2020; Eddie Chacon’s ‘Pleasure, Joy and Happiness‘.
I discovered Eddie Chacon and his album ‘Pleasure, Joy and Happiness’ (Day End) through a friend in October last year, by then it had already been out for three months. I’m not sure how far it has reached, it’s hard to judge the visibility of new releases’ in Covid times. Are we listening and discovering the same way with life and routines changed? For me, one play and I was submerged in the tranquil wooziness of the music and his soulful meditative voice, and it’s been my go-to music morning, noon and night. The funny thing is the album feels like it has been around forever, like a lost private press, unearthed by Numero Group or Light In The Attic, reminiscent of the lo-fi, R&B, synth jams of Dwight Skyes or Mayran E. Coote.
‘Pleasure, Joy and Happiness’ is a sublimely minimal and quietly reserved album. Producer John Carroll Kirby, who’s album ‘My Garden‘ was another favourite of 2020, provides the music and lyrics alongside Chacon and it is a match made in heaven. Running at just under 30 minutes, the eight songs on here are just over minutes long. They are perfect vignettes of modern R&B. Calming, and intriguing synth tones, delicate keyboards and simple drum sequences make up the effortless flow of the music, while Chacon tenderly croons personal memoirs. Lyrically the album contains the worldly wisdom of Curtis Mayfield, and at times Chacon sings is in a hushed breath not too dissimilar to Mayfield’s open and gentle style. Bruised love, loss, heartbreak, and strength are the album’s central themes; however, it’s reflective emotion, not scars, and tears.
The ‘lead tracks’ on the album are the strongest, fully-formed songs with the catchiest of melodies; ‘Trouble’, ‘My Mind is Out of its Mind’, ‘Hurt’ and ‘Above Below’. On the final track, ‘Above Below’ a couple of elements discreetly join the mix to close the album; live jazzy drums bring the welcome sound of a cymbal crash (soft and muted), and distant hymnal backing vocals add further spiritual vibes to the deep grooves of the record. You wouldn’t be so off the mark to think Chacon might be guesting vocals on a Badbadnotgood track here, obviously in a good way, and it certainly hints at the possibility of hearing his reclaimed mellow-gold soul voice appearing on collaborations in the future.
This is the first album Eddie Chacon has released in decades. In 1992 he hit number one and worldwide success with ‘Would I Lie To You’ (yes, that song) with his group Charles & Eddie. Coming back to the music industry from such heights after such a long time must have been nerve-wracking. It was is a brave move, and I don’t know if it would have made sense without the Kirby connection, but I’m glad they found each other. You may have had the pleasure, joy and happiness of hearing this celestial album already, but if you haven’t, go ahead and click the link below to listen and purchase here on Bandcamp.
El Rancho here welcoming the new year with the first radio show of 2021. If all goes to plan there will be one a month on Clyde Built and one a month on Subcity. Listen out for a couple of random mixes under the Deep Groan guise, which is the other side of El Rancho’s musical tastes that doesn’t get enough of an airing. Till then, tune into Clyde Built on Sunday at 11am…
Dottie West – A Lesson in Leavin’ Kevin Ayers – Everyone Knows the Song John Phillips – Jazz II Camayenne Sofa – Wayalangaï (guinea) Rockin’ Ramrods – Bright Lit Blue Skies Dennis Linde – I Don’t Want Nobody ‘Ceptin’ You Bobbie Gentry – Courtyard Dave Van Rock – I Think It’s Going To Rain Today Jim Spencer – Another Lonely Day Pink Floyd – Green Is the Colour Chris Bell – I Am The Cosmos Rodd Keith – Ecstacy to Frenzy Left Banke – Ivy, Ivy Judee Still – The Phantom Cowboy Ronnie Lane – Roll on Babe Love Apple – Call Me When You Want Me Lucio Battisti – Una Poltrona The Rokes – Ride On The Who – 1921