I Saw the Future But the Damn Train Hit Me Just TH
Have you noticed a lot of nude emperors walking around, lately.....? Snipe Hunt has, and on this, their 3rd CD (following 2000's 'Dirty Ditties and Cover Tunes'), the boys have rooted around in the bog and surfaced with a new handful of songs that dare to point to the president's.....oops, I mean 'emperor's' transparent new clothes. Now a duo of Walter Ehresman (vocals/lead and rhythm guitars/basses/drums and percussion/keyboards/mandolin/banjo/sampling/theremin/programming) and Vic Ramirez (vocals/rhythm guitars/percussion/MIDI guitar/South American dictator rapping/deer antlers), Snipe Hunt has continued on with the rock and worldbeat influences of the first album and has entered new territory by writing songs in a whole passle of new styles: acid jazz/Spanish hip hop/bluegrass/jump blues/singer-songwriter acoustic material. As is always the case with the band, great care is given to the lyrics themselves.....and the sentiments here are strongly expressed, be they commentary on the cynical political manipulations of the current power structure or struggling with the loss of a dear friend. A seditious sense of humor rears it's head throughout the CD, however. Track 1, Snipe Know Your Enemy, acts as an introduction to the CD. Because poor planning will wreck your world, no journey out into the snipe bog should be undertaken without the proper training. Track 2, Super Fine, is the first song Walt and Vic wrote together, and features a tight arrangement and production reminiscent of Matthew Sweet. Track 3, Long Ago, is one of Vic's newer songs, and features his fine singing and some hammered dulcimer, played on an 8-zone electric percussion pad unit by Walt. Track 4, The King of Paperclips (a petty tyrant sings the blues), is a song that generally speaks to those people who are given one small area of power and who abuse it utterly. This song has a bluegrass/ jazz-rock fusion intro and outro, with a reggae main body. Track 5, Hind-Leg Dancin', is a big band jump blues exploring the Eternal Theme of 'men are dirty dogs.' The track features enthusiastic background vocals by the very-elusive Austin singing duo--The Hipwaders (the only outside performers on the CD). Track 6 is the title track, and is a bluegrass number about the futility of male behavior. Track 7, Shadow of a Love, is a sad song written in '96 by Walt, with the first version released on his '99 solo album 'Handwedge From the Trap.' Vic takes the lead vocal in this remake, along with most of the background vocals, and the song really shines as a result. A marked improvement over the original. Track 8, Girl From an OK Town, is the first song Vic brought to the band, and is finally released here after being performed live for several years. The song features acoustic guitars, mandolin, and fretless bass (with Vic adding the organ part on MIDI guitar). Track 9, All Possible Dances, is a song of Walt's, written about his experiences working in public service to protect the environment. With regularity, many of his collegues would leave to pursue exponentially larger paychecks working for polluters. Because many of these folk had become his friends while they worked together, their leaving caused strongly mixed feelings. The song features all organic percussion, including Vic on deer antlers (and it doesn't get much more organic than that). Track 10, Afilado A Pedacitos is a hip hop Spanish-language remake of a song ('Sharpened to Bits') Walt wrote in '87 and recorded for his first solo album 'Honor in the Swine?' ('89). Amidst a barrage of electronic beats and sounds, Vic sounds like a South American general up on the balcony in Buenos Aries, haranguing the crowd with all his medals clanking against one another. Lyrically, the song is about being so conscious not to be image-conscious that the behavior becomes self-defeating. Track 11, Just Keep Your Eyes on the Ball, may be the album's best track. In an acid jazz style, the song compares the last year's Bush/Ashcroft, etc. Diversionary tactics to cheap carnival hucksterism. It's all a shell game, advancing their anti-democratic agenda on the backs of the Sept. 11 dead by cynically using the disaster as a cloak for a whole host of unrelated policy goals. It's no wonder the rest of the world fears and hates America. Vic pulls a very smooth vocal out here to juxtapose against the strong lyrical content. Track 12, Hey Freyja, is another song performed live by the band for several years before being recorded here. It's an emotional treatment of a Norseman's loss of faith (where the hell does Walt get these ideas....?). Track 13, Everywhere I Look Around, is from Vic and was the last song recorded for the album. It's dedicated to a friend of his who died tragically in Mexico. Vic pays her a very touching tribute with this song, with Walt adding fretless bass and a little accordion part. Track 14, HWY 149, is as close as Snipe Hunt gets to the 'three-named guy' (Townes Van Zant, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Lee Harvey Oswald, etc.) style of songwriting. This song is about world weariness and the urge to just stop the good fight and retreat to a place out in the woods (if the woods are still there, rather than being logged out by greedheads). The highway in question runs from Gunnison, Colorado to Lake City, which is a tiny little town Walt used to vacation in many, many years ago. According to the band, the photo shoot for the CD was interesting. Walt states '.....we were over in Manor, Texas, and it was so hot that the tar was bubbling out of the railroad ties and sticking to our clothes. The rails burned our skin through our jeans, and we had a guy there to yank us off the tracks in case a train came. He kept asking us how much money we had on us..... We had a friend of ours, a girl from India by way of Tanzania, taking the photos, wearing traditional clothing. The locals didn't know what we were up to, but they knew they didn't cotton to it. They kept backing the truck up for another look, shaking their heads and giving us the stink eye.....' __ PRESS: Local Flavor, 11/02: 'Grab this one right now...it's great! Long known for clever lyrics and unusual arrangements, this band has come of age.....This disc is diverse (as any Snipe Hunt album should be). Styles range from bluegrass and acid jazz to reggae and Townes Van Zandt-style singer/songwriter cuts. Sweet, sad love songs and twisted social commentary provide the subject matter for these lyrics. However, this release by our favorite clever boys is entirely listenable. The diversity from one cut to the next is not startling...but delightful. From the funny boot camp-style intro through 'Super Fine'.....to the unforgettable 'Girl From an OK Town', the very personal 'Everywhere I Look Around,' and the Murphy's Law cut 'I Saw the Future (But the Damn Train Hit Me Just the Same),' this disc will leave you hungry for much more of the wild taste of Snipe Hunt.' Indie Texas Music Newsletter, 11/02: '.....is a 14-cut tongue-in-cheek treat. Diverse....with Vic's very fine vocals in the front. The title cut is a funny bluegrass song, but you'll also hear a bit of reggae, a touch of jazz, some electronica influence, a song in Spanish, and several outstanding singer/songwriter cuts....Most are by Walter, but his long-time partner Vic Ramirez...penned some of these tunes.'