Boutique \ Dead Cowboys \ Twin Evil Stars [BOUCD 6610]
Dead Cowboys offer a distinctly British slant on twisted Americana and bottom-of-the-glass heartache. Singer/songwriter Dave Jackson rips through a stash of raw-edged, country-peppered prairie gems as menacing as they are dynamic. The band describe Twin Evil Stars as a 'cowgoth' hybrid of post-punk folk, fused to classic torch ballad pop. A sort of UnAmericana for people who dig Hank Williams and Joy Division, but think Ryan Adams sounds like bad pub rock.
The album was recorded in the band's hometown of Liverpool in 2004, and follows their well-received debut Comings and Goings, released in 2000 on the Viper label. On this latest collection core members Dave Jackson, Becky Stringer (bass) and Greg Milton (guitar) are joined by keyboard player Peter Baker.
1. Twin Evil Stars
2. Black Easter
3. Violet City
4. The Silent Type
6. Changing Trains
7. Biting the Ground
9. A Good Car
10. New Neighbour
12. No Mystery/ Breathe Pure White Light
13. Cowboy Mouth
14. Kill the Dream
15. Ladder to the Sun
16. Good Boys Stay Poor Boys (Bad Boys Go To Jail)
18. Drowning Weed
19. Changing Trains (Mindwinder Mix)
Available on CD and download.
"Pits the band into the same craggy country territory as The Mekons, particularly on Biting the Ground and the runaway train that is Good Boys Stay Poor Boys" (Uncut, 05/2005)
"Still kicks up some smoke, tackling the kind of mythic, dark-tinged country and western styles suggested by artists such as The Walkabouts, Stan Ridgway and Simon Bonney. Thematically the album covers everything from film noir settings to intense, focused psychodramas, and Jackson's voice has lost none of its warm, passionate power" (All Music Guide, 04/2005)
"A dignified return from a band who are still enjoying making music" (Leonard's Lair, 02/2005)
"Far less emphasis on the countrified clash and clatter of their debut, and when it kicks in it does so beautifully" (Whisperin' and Hollerin', 03/2005)
Dead Cowboys coalesced from the dust of Dust, the outfit formed by Dave Jackson and Becky Stringer after the demise of Benny Profane. Dust played gigs and recorded a couple of unreleased albums between 1991 and 1994. The band included ex-Profane drummer Liam Rice, and at different times, Ian Johnsen (Of Arrow Hill, Must Destroy) and Kenny Manson (Kit) on guitar.
Greg Milton, formerly of Jackson and Stringer's favourite Liverpool-based band, Barbel, joined as Dust's new guitar guy in late 1993. The band then decided on a name change, briefly playing as Stripwax and then Cowboy Mouth. Unfortunately, they discovered that the name Cowboy Mouth had been taken by some Scottish upstarts so the band finally settled on Dead Cowboys. As the name implies, the original concept behind the band was to indulge the group's penchant for country music and early sets reflected this, with songs very much in the Hank Williams, Gram Parsons, Merle Haggard mould. A particular live favourite was the band's heart-rending rendition of Webb Pearce's 'There Stands the Glass'.
Several drummers down the line, the band hooked up with Andrew McKechnie, Joe McKechnie's flame-haired nephew. Together with Becky's husband J.R. Kyme on rhythm guitar and mixing board, Dead Cowboys began to record their debut album, Comings and Goings. During this time, the band began to evolve away from the straight country vibe, which still informs some of their music, towards a style which this scribe can only describe as Cowgoth or post-punk Unamericana - melding their Sunday-go-to meeting songs to heavy metal, blues, torch balladry and their own roots music - the Northern English rattle, twang and drone of an 80s independent scene that spawned them.
Ex-Room mate Peter Baker pleasured the Korg organ on several tracks during a fleeting visit from Australia. Comings and Goings was released in 2000 and received glowing reviews in Uncut, Mojo and Time Out. However, the release coincided with Andrew's retirement from drumming, and the band's general preoccupation with other stuff - jobs, babies, beer brewing and skittles.
As a result Dead Cowboys played fewer gigs but eventually began recording again as a threepece in Greg's home studio. The recordings went really well and so they just kept on writing new stuff as well as resuscitating older ideas. The result is Twin Evil Stars, 18 new songs and a Joe McKechnie remix. The 2005 album also features an obligatory Christmas visit from their now abstemious antipodean keyboard player, Peter Baker, probably playing his last drink fuelled session.
Dead Cowboys recently started playing live shows again and recalled an ex-drummer, Tony Smith. Their October 2004 performance at Hell's Ditch in Liverpool was a showcase for their moody intensity. Moe live activity will follow on the heels of the February release of their new album on The Boutique Label.
And there's more. Rubberboy from their last album is used in the title sequence of Dead Cool, an independent UK film by David Cohen, while several tracks off Twin Evil Stars and Comings and Goings feature in a Dave Jackson scripted short, Someone to Talk To.
Dave Jackson is currently developing a low budget science fiction feature for the UK Film Council and Box Film. Becky Stringer is perfecting Stringer's ales with husband, J.R. Greg Milton is saying nothing - why do you want to know?