Man, I'm not so sure anybody's going to believe me that Butch Vig's a member of this cool-ass rootsy folky unit. I mean, the guy was tied up in Garbage and Spooner and produced a wilderness of top ensembles—Green Day, Helmet, Die Kreuzen, Sonic Youth, and I'm going to have to go out and buy three more pounds of ink to name 'em all—but none of 'em were one leetle bit like this. The Emperors of Wyoming ain't no half-ass hey-we're-punkers-but-we-need-credibility gambit like so much of the so-called cowpunk wave proved to be, they are much much different. There's a gutsy backboned novo-authenticity to their eponymous debut and more than a little Appalachian spirit blended with the kind of vibe and materials that so inspired The Band and Bob Dylan way back when.
Take I'm Your Man, which expands the genre a la Space Opera or Help Yourself, two 70s groups that blew a few minds but were ahead of their time and folded all too rapidly. Frank Anderson plays a mean set of strings (Phil Davis rhythm axes behind him), and he and the lads take the track into prog territory reaching for the skies before coming back down to Earth. Then it's follower, Rebirth of the Cool, reinterprets that Afghan Wigs' song as a spooky prog / Morricone / Rotary Connection delectation, a very affecting number that sits long in the memory with a touch of Greg Kihn's Remember tossed in.
Then they call up the late John Martyn—thank God that magnificent gent's finally slowly getting covered!!—and turn out an evolving Bless the Weather, roughing the song up a bit before letting it fly to storm clouds in echoes and tintinnabulation. This CD saw release in 2012 in Europe and was well received by crits, as damn well it should've been, so now we 'Murricans git to get down with it as well. The album's sense of modernized Americana is so overpowering that few are going to be able to resist its clarion call. Too bad the mainstream radio waves are so fucked up 'cause there's a ton of Neil Young, Tom Petty, and kindred others here, and the disc should go down similar to Harvest or a dirtied-up early Eagles blowing into town with a case of Jack Daniels, a hangover, and the urge to update Buffalo Springfield more towards Arkansas.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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