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Lift To Experience | The Texas Jerusalem Crossroads (Bella Union)
Some albums could only come from Texas. Lift To Experience's debut begins with lead singer, Josh Pearson, intoning over caterwauling guitar and percussion "This is the story of three Texas boys / Busy minding their own business when the angel of the Lord appeared to them / Saying when the Winston Chruchills start firing their Winston rifles into the sky / From the Lone Star state drinking the Lone Star beer and smoking Winston cigarettes." And from hereon in, things just get weirder. Ostensibly a (74 minute) concept album about the end of the world occurring in Texas, this is simply the strangest and most intriguing record I've come across all year. Down Came The Angels has the same kind of devotional feel as Will Oldham's recent Get On Jolly EP, with Pearson singing like a man possessed one moment and like a choirboy the next. The music itself makes more U-turns than your average Labour minister moving from Falling From Cloud 9's Grandaddy-like wall of sound to the sultry country of With Crippled Wings. The nine minute Waiting To Hit is like a whole Jim White album packed into one song, with Pearson singing "I'm just a stupid ranch hand / In a Texas rock band / Trying to understand / God's master plan." The master plan of this album is similarly difficult to grasp. The songs detail angels landing in the Texas desert, Biblical proselytizing, deals with God and sundry other inexplicables all couched in a dense Baroque tapestry of sound. The Ground So Soft, perhaps the highlight here, has a dissonant breakdown dovetailing into a gorgeous backwater a-cappella interlude with Pearson pleading "Death, where is thy sting? / Grave, where is thy victory?" It's moments like this that evince a disarming originality that sets them above other religion obsessed bands - there's just that much more scope and vision on this record. Not everything works however, some songs could have benefited with some judicious editing (the 4 minute outro to These Are The Days, the unfocused When Shall We Touch and the 10 minute closer Into The Storm.) But apart from that, this is a shockingly assured and deliciously wigged-out debut that has MADE IN TEXAS stamped all over it.
CWAS #8 - Summer 2001