The Adios Lounge loves its oldies, whether it’s golden age oldies like Creedence and Doug Sahm or 2012’s silver age oldies like Redd Kross and Bob Mould. This tendency toward nostalgia means I have to remind myself that young bands are still capable of making a damn good racket. For example, the District Attorneys, a young Atlanta/Athens (Georgia) quintet who are proud Sons of Jacket. By that I mean they’re one of the many bands in the last decade who owe a substantial debt to My Morning Jacket and their spacious, reverby southern rock.
Where other Sons make me wanna beat a biter down with an aluminum bat — looking at you, Band Of Horses — the DAs seem to use MMJ as just one reference point. In fact, you could make the argument that they appropriate the Jacket in much the same way the Jacket appropriated Neil Young, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Remember, the best American music is part of a continuum, an archipelago of roots, guitars, and ballsy, heartfelt interpretations of a common language. Mediocre music, whether it’s BoH, Mumford & Sons, or a hundred other bands, may reference the continuum, but without heart and balls, and dumbed down for mass appeal. Fuck that.
District Attorneys – Slowburner
This Is American Music
“I ain’t got you
It’s fine because it’s my own natural cool
And I understand that you pray to God
For all the time you’ve spent
When I spent time with pills and shaking hands
With no control.”
Obviously, there’s a lot more going on here than just post-MMJ riffage. To that end, I love this quote from the DAs frontman:
ATLRetro: “Can you name a few 20th century musicians who have been key influences and inspirations for you and the band, and why?”
Drew Beskin: “I always say The Replacements, The Jesus and Mary Chain and The Smiths. I probably say that because I love their guitar tones and how soundtrack-like they sound. I love those bands and I definitely try to add some of that to our stuff.”
—Drew Beskin to ATLRetro, January 10, 2012
You can hear all of these influences in “Slowburner,” the title track of the DAs debut album. There’s the Paul Westerberg singalongability (think about the na-na-nas in “Shiftless When Idle” and “Dyslexic Heart”), there’s the obvious Johnny Marr guitar tone (either Beskin or Walker Beard, possibly both), and the layered melodies could be JMC as easily as MMJ.
In fact, there are insidious melodies throughout Slowburner, sometimes in the service of big rock songs, other times for plaintive ballads. In that sense, the District Attorneys remind me of longtime Adios Lounge faves, Li’l Cap’n Travis, another band whose sound rocks and sways in fairly equal amounts and has also been described as shimmering summer pop. To wit:
District Attorneys – Confusion Of Trust
The Loft, Atlanta, GA
February 10, 2012
Good luck fighting this earworm. If you’re like me, you’ll be humming this goddamn song whether you like it or not, saying things like, “GET OUT OF MY HEAD, DREW BESKIN!!!” This is a good thing, by the way. I love that the DAs — probably unintentionally — ripped off the chorus to Boz Scaggs‘ 1977 hit, “Lido Shuffle.” No, seriously. Here’s the “Lido” video. Fast forward to 3:58 and have a good laugh.
While I never would’ve expected Boz Scaggs to be a positive reference point, this is all part of the process. Everything that’s come before is up for grabs, it just depends how you use it. Have you learned nothing from Paul’s Boutique? COME ON!!!
District Attorneys – Slowburner (Acoustic)
Buckhead Theater, Atlanta
December 17, 2011
Bringing it all back home, here’s a downhome acoustic version of today’s leadoff song. Yes, there are a couple of clams because this is rock ‘n’ roll and mistakes happen. Settle down, you’ll be fine.
For what it’s worth, this morning I learned that the DAs will be releasing a new EP next month. True story. From the band’s Facebook page (also linked below): “We are very excited to announce that we are releasing a 4-song EP on 12/4/12. Our “Jr.” EP will feature all new songs and will serve as a lil snacker for you while we prepare to start working on our 2nd full length album. The EP will be available to download for FREE through Bandcamp and This Is American Music. It will also be available on iTunes, Spotify etc.”
“Ahh, ahh, slow burn it’s all right
Oh no, we slip through the other side.”