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

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

Over a 30-year career, Nick DeRiso has also explored music for USA Today, All About Jazz, Ultimate Classic Rock 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 nation by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Contact him at