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Tractor Kings | Sunday Night (Mud / Parasol)
Had history dictated that The Velvet Underground formed in a backwoods Tennessee community rather than New York City, then it is likely that they may have ended up sounding like Tractor Kings. The sound that this Champaign / Urbana, Illinois duo have conjured up for their debut album is pure American Gothic ?? a compelling and disturbing rumble of noise that owes as much to the traditions and restless spirits of the forests and mountains, as it does to the grime and dangers of the city. Sunday Night belongs to drummer Rebecca Rury, propelling it along as she does with steady Mo Tucker pudda-pudda toms and pinging cymbals on those that romp, and rolling simply and effectively around her basic kit on the few slowies. Singer, guitarist and lyricist Jacob Fleischli (who from the inner-sleeve shot appears to be the tallest man on earth) is possessed of a voice akin to Dylan addicted to horse tranquillizers ?? a drunken drawl as if he can only just be bothered. Joined here by Matt Filippo on bass and Casio, Norm Vidoni on mandolin and Joe Stover on violin, Fleischli and Rury have produced a trippy, ramshackle debut of intrigue and promise. Lyrically, it's common ground for all things country ?? addiction, lost loves, death and despair ?? but it's the woozy, fuzzy, almost oppressive production employed by Stover ?? approaching No-Fi - that breaks a certain amount of new ground here in the realms of roots-based American music. Fascinating stuff from the block's latest cellar dwellers.

Tom Sheriff
CWAS #8 - Summer 2001