Meh With Us
Ryo Miyauchi: If being good with God turns your music all limp and nervous, and not playing nice can make it even half a thrill as Brandi Carlile’s hollers, I don’t want to be good.
Alfred Soto: It’s got the rockabilly licks and drum rolls that would’ve excited the Anthony DeCurtises of rockcrit in 1985, maybe gotten Old 97’s booked to score a David Lynch movie in 1990. Catchy and brisk, with an almost clever lyrical inversion (would he think God’s a woman if he hadn’t met that devil woman in the first place?), and Brandi Carlisle is welcome, but it’s rote.
Anthony Easton: Riders of the Storm remade as feminist voice of God, almost literally. Theologically smart and gorgeous, mostly interesting for the idea of a female God as an example of divine wrath.
Maxwell Cavaseno: Rhett Miller you bum-ass motherfucker, I don’t give a fuck how good with the lord you might be. You’re in my face with spaghetti western bullshit in 2017 doing bravado and fake Memphis mic sounds. You better hope the lord has the angels on speed dial because I’m about to Wayne Farris the shit out of you with your own guitar.
Iain Mew: Riding a guitar shuffle with a rickety old train’s worth of momentum, the journey passes pretty uneventufully apart from the voice of God coming back from the steam. I guess asking for more is a bit greedy in the circumstances.
Josh Langhoff: I’ve liked these Texas cowpunks for two reasons: they had the good sense to take a paycheck for The Break-Up, which is better than everyone thinks it is, and the even better sense to rewrite “Desolation Row” as “Champaign, Illinois,” my Dad’s (and REO Speedwagon’s!) hometown. Now I like them for a third: in Brandi Carlile’s voice, with all its trembling power and naked self regard, they heard the voice of Yahweh. Remember Exodus 4: Moses and his family are traveling to Egypt at Yahweh’s command. They stop for the night, and Yahweh decides — apparently out of the blue — to kill Moses. Yahweh’s mind changes only after Moses’s wife Zipporah, thinking outside the box, circumcises their son and touches the bloody clippings to Moses’s feet. Sure, why not! Carlile portrays such capricious power well, Rhett Miller has his hapless Moses down cold, and the band saws along like flint hastily applied to foreskin, desperate to move on to all the plague stuff.