I’ve lived in Austin for a couple of years now, and it’s the only place in Texas I can say that about. I’ve spent nights in Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, Uvalde, and Fort Stockton (long story there), but my exposure to the rest of Texas remains limited. However, I’m not one to proclaim that Austin is the only place in Texas worth a damn, and it irks me when other transplants here share those kinds of sentiments. Austin is not an oasis in a desert of conservatism/jingoism/religiosity/or anything else. It is just a different take on the same state of mind that produced Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, Uvalde, and even Fort Stockton, and we can’t really understand or appreciate this city while ignoring the rest of the great state of Texas.
This is most applicable to OVRLD in terms of the music scene here. For those of us who frequent Red River and the Eastside, there is just not a lot of country music in our lives. And yet, the Austin music scene was built on people like Willie Nelson, Townes Van Zandt, Robert Earl Keen, Joe Ely, Lucinda Williams, and so many other strong country artists. Hell, there’s a whole subgenre of country called Texas Country and Austin is a mecca for it. I’m not saying you have to like that music, but it’s part of the rich mosaic that makes up this wonderful place we call home, and we should respect and appreciate that.
All of that long-windedness is meant to introduce The Lonesome Heroes – one of the only pure country bands that has managed to infiltrate the Red River scene. At its core, the Lonesome Heroes consists of Landry McMeans (who is also an accomplished visual artist in her own right) and Rich Russell (who, judging by the band’s press photos, seems to have an aversion to cameras). Though the duo cite the Flaming Lips, Lou Barlow and Galaxie 500 among their influences, they have found a voice on their recently re-mastered 2012 release Daydream Western that is much more in line aesthetically with Neko Case, Gillian Welch, or a countrified Wooden Birds. As the album title indicates, they evoke the dusty expanses of West Texas in their music through soaring lap steel guitar lines and lyrics the “road.”The Lonesome Heroes - 'Something Reckless'
Though no single on this latest record is as good as “Drunken Pirate Ship” off of their 2008 record, Crooked Highway, Daydream Western is a much more mature, consistent effort. From the opening track, “Something Reckless,” they offer up memorable song after memorable song, often led by either Russell or McMeans. The Russell-led tracks (“Something Reckless,” “Seeing is Believing,” “Ocean”) feel a bit darker both lyrically and musically than the McMeans-led ones (“Highway 287,” “Am Radio”), but at all times, the two offer up catchy melodies that help make the record accessible even to those who may not be country connoisseurs. I think their frequent use of onomatopoeic or nonsense syllables (like on “Something Reckless” or “Aspens”) helps to that end. I mean, who hears a good “bah-bah-bah” chorus and doesn’t sing along?
While much of it is comprised of an indie-rock interpretation of country music, Daydream Western ends on one of the most straightforward country songs you’ll hear – “Don’t Play to Lose.” Over the course of their album, The Lonesome Heroes show that they’re following their own advice. And in the process, they remind us that there is a whole lot of Texas out there for us to love.