“The Wire, the Rag and the Payoff”

For Brokeback and the Black Rock, the first new Brokeback release in about 10 years, Douglas McCombs (of Tortoise fame) hired an entirely new squad to coalesce a more traditional rock configuration, where his penchant for dusty, Morricone-esque melodies could thrive. The style’s a far cry from the band’s earlier jazzy chamber-compositions of a decade ago, but some might argue that this is indeed the natural setting for McCombs’ pliable, whammy-bar tones. And “The Wire, the Rag and the Payoff” makes a strong case, especially as filtered through John McEntire’s sparkling production via the legendary Soma studio. The video for the track, however goofy, finds the band in true-to-form performance mode on a stage in front of wide open and expansive vista sceneries, furthering the Western thematic content the full record is already rife with. Thrill Jockey tells us the video was inspired by a Glen Campbell performance on the Smothers Brothers’ show (this one?). I guess I can see it, but that doesn’t really explain those mittens. Someone is going to have to explain the mittens to me. Guys… what’s the deal with the mittens?

Brokeback and the Black Rock is out now on Thrill Jockey.

• Thrill Jockey:

Chocolate Grinder

CHOCOLATE GRINDER is our audio/visual section, with an emphasis on the lesser heard and lesser known. We aim to dig deep, but we’ll post any song or video we find interesting, big or small.

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