One Track Mind: Churchwood, "Vendidi Fumar (I Sell Smoke)" (2011)

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Guitarists Bill Anderson and Billysteve (yep, one word) Kopri turn the blues inside out on Churchwood’s “Vendidi Fumar,” then wear it around like Lady Gaga’s meat dress. Theirs is a sound — sudden, bright and menacing — not unlike a car crash, with six strings. Then there’s Vocalist Joe Doerr, who simply howls the title out into the night — like brailing call from an insistent drunk. It’s wild and actually wooly, this Austin amalgam of Delta grind, slit-wrist punk and Captain Beefheart-y weird-rock.

Then Churchwood, whose self-titled release is out on San Antonio, Texas-based Saustex Media, downshifts into a nightscape exploration, as Doerr falls into a snarling whisper. The sense of anticipation for the band’s crashing return is as palpable as far-off thunder. You begin to count off the seconds until the room lights up with the next bolt of lightning, closer now, heartstoppingly close. And then … they do: Doerr whispers his angry entreaty — Vendidi FUMAAAARRRRR! — one last time, and Andersion and Korpi unleash a paired torrent of scalding yelps on their instruments.

“Fire,” Doerr rails, over a rattling rhythm from bassist Adam Kahan and drummer Julien Peterson, “everything must go” — and you can almost smell the glowing ash.

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Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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