No Show Cadillac:
The Melodic Ramblin's of a Shithouse Rat
By | Parker Marlow
Photos | Hassnaa + Emma Renly
Originally published in Issue VIII
It's a cold morning in the winter. Hot exhaust from a small car interacts with the frigid air. In its unison, a breath of cigarette smoke is exhaled. They're both sighs, one for a tired engine, one for another morning in the cold. The car's put in drive, it heads off. To who knows where.
"The Melodic Ramblings of a Shithouse Rat" opens with the hectic strumming of twelve strings, then is met by a barrage of crackling washboard (Carson Spector), slices of wailing viola (Elizabeth Weimholt), and dissonant mandolin leads (Eddie Greene.)
"Wake Up, Ya Gotta Move" Connor Scaro sings, in his trademark baritone grumble. Self deprecating and gloomy, yet with a swing that acts like a wisecrack around a fire, one that gets a laugh. At times you could even dance to it.
Clocking out at exactly an hour of music, "Ramblings" is a mirage of folk stylings. Influenced by Bluegrass, New Orleans Swing, Rag, and American Primitive, each played with enough filth that one could maybe think to call it "Punk-Folk" at times.
The lonesome arrangements of the album's down tempo tracks (Killin' Time, The Lonely Incinerator) act out scenarios, like scenes in a film without much dialogue. They interact with the lyrics to make quick shots, trudging up desert hills, dehydrated in hundreds of degrees, or shivering behind the wheel of a car driving across a frozen planet that's alleged to be this very earth.
The tempo picks up, and keeps picking up, rapid strumming and fingerpicking rollick alongside the manic rasping of the washboard, drunkenly dancing with the mandolin. It all drops off, and viola mourns its ending. An odd and full soup of acoustic sound slurs itself out from the record.
It's loose and dirty. Sounds like it was written in the shithouse, something that came to mind through the upward breeze of a latrine. The record sounds like cheap whiskey, the smell of an old book of poetry rescued from the ¢25 bin, and nights of bad sleep. It sounds like Moab at times, lyrically turned into a pillar of salt after too much looking back. It's stark and honest, moody, and clever, yet it ain't afraid to laugh.
In opposition to the frequent themes of melancholy and solitude comes "You Ain't Got Yours, I Ain't Got Mine." It's a singalong. Full of quotable and funny lyrics that oughta make you shout along, culminating into everybody singin' "FUCK IT ALL" against the judging and pretentious eyes of those who think they "know it all."
After everything comes the record's final track. "Volatile Fool." Unaccompanied by his bandmates, a lone guitar lets out a final sigh. Tuned low, and played delicately. A minimally poetic retrospective, honest and tender, diving itself into frustrated dissonance. the song ends, as does the record.