Friday, July 23, 2010

The Old Main- Debut Album

Songs for the new depression, or songs for the manic depressive?  Rod Lacy digs deep into his psyche while taking an unblinking look at the good and bad in all of us.  No sunny pop songs here, Lacy the offspring of Northwestern New Mexico coal miners is not afraid of the dark. Rod plays guitar in the style of the San Francisco psychedelic rockers of the Haight Asbury era, clear fluid leads with minimal distortion, on vocals his distinctive twang speaks of his heritage, while the banjo on some of the tracks could fool you into thinking that it's the hills of Kentucky that he sings about, instead of  Western New Mexico coal country.   In 2004, Rod had abandoned his previous band "Weldon"  by abruptly moving  to Ruidoso. That winter while stuck in a mountain cabin during a snowstorm, Rod assembled  the songs that would make up his 2006 solo album "Blacklung."  Working alone, he played  all the instruments while preserving his efforts on a 4 track recorder.  The Old Main's (named after the infamous main building of the Santa Fe state prison) debut album is the almost identical studio version of "Blacklung." For the The Old Main studio sessions Rod was joined by Mojo Atzberger (Atomic Love Medicine) and Zoltan Szekely (Rakes of Mallow)
  "Remnants of Gibson" finds Rod reminiscing "Coming out of the ground it's going to last forever"  but knowing that it can't, he adds "At least we might make it stretch a little bit long." Emotionally played out,  Rod finds himself overwhelmed "Going out of my head, the thoughts won't deliver, if ever" but as he sings, the thoughts come faster than he can process them, until in frustration he strikes at his guitar over and over, like a man at end of his rope, slamming his head into a wall.  When the last mine at Mogollon closed, the miners painted a clock on the hillside, the arms forever frozen at four o'clock, it stands as a silent witness to the end of an era. "The way that you'll know that it's time to go" but  sometimes you don't need a clock to know when your time is up. On "Gamerco" Rod sings: "The coming down was the hardest part, but now I know when I'm ok",  but he's not, his life is unraveling, and all attempts at self medication have failed. He's emotionally numb, as he tries to mend his relationship   "I can't hear, what you can't say" he tells her, while shifting some of the blame to himself  "Saving face was never too smart, to make a mess in the first place" seeking an island of calm in the midst of turbulent times, he knows where to find it "I'm lost inside of my head, but I just don't mind" and who said you can't ever go home again.  "Young Faith Healer/Image Adjust" starts with Jim Jones imploring his followers to drink the Kool-Aid. "How very much I've loved you...." when Rod cuts him off  "I'm sick and tired of hearing about tomorrow, what will you do when there's no one left to follow" the true believers have been betrayed, confusion and hysteria builds  "We are sitting here waiting on a powder keg" Jim Jones reminds them, Rod won't have it, he answers back  "what's fucked to some is another man's salvation," but the healer maintains control "we commit an act of revolutionary suicide to protest the conditions of an inhumane world"  slowly his voice becomes more and more disembodied, good bye Jim, sweet dreams in hell.  Now with the monster dead, the mood has grown somber, it's time to reflect, why did so many follow him to the death?  "The situation has always been, a steady leak in the levy" Rod sings, beware of false prophets he reminds us "Think for yourself when you're ready"
On Blacklung, Rod sings from the perspective of a downtrodden coal miner, nearly broken in body, but not in spirit.  He's a study in contradictions,  while he sounds anti-intellectual "These five dollar words are just a waste of time" he keeps a level head with  a mantra that has it's origins in the cult of the goddess Isis "Simplicity is the key to doors divine" which Rod repeats like an incantation. "I smoke cigarettes and drink the pain away, climb in the bed and that's all that I can say" a theme that runs through Rod Lacy's songs is physical and mental exhaustion, the common man killing himself to make a living. "I've got these hard time, blacklunged, coal miner blues" but rather than feeling sorry for himself  he stands defiant "I'd feel just fine if these slave driving fucks would get in line, they can pucker up and make the holy sign, they can kiss my ass, cus they've been kicking mine" the last line Rod repeats three times, the miner's version of an incantation. Rod Lacy hits on many common themes, for example on the bluesy "Heartaches on Vinyl"  He takes inventory of his mental and emotional state. "You know I never mind too much for you to peek inside of my heart there's really nothing there to see unless your eyes work in the dark" his heart is cluttered with the debris of heartache and loss, nothing some good house keeping won't fix. "Murderers, Thieves and Misfits" starts off with  a convict looking back on his mistakes,"This poor planning and bad choices have got me sitting here just passing the time" he blames society  "They've just never seen the likes of me now there's razor wire far as I can see." you do the crime, you do the time.  "My Name is..." the tale of a run in with the Zodiac Killer, has Rod telling the story "I been trying to fuck this girl out at Lake Berryessa, when along comes a man dressed as a devil" the ultimate cockblock  "Is he crazy?, yes he's crazy! but I didn't die!" Rod exclaims. Some guys just seem to have all the luck in the world, but what about the girl? "Notes scribbled in the dirt"  is a disturbing but beautiful love letter from a man near the edge, Rod's voice aches with doubt and despair as he sings  "I left a note scribbled in the dirt , you can read it when you come on through," sounds sweet until he adds "I made a sign of skin that I burned on my arm just for you" what do you say to that! Thank You?