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Swearing At Motorists
Along The Inclined Plane
Secretly Canadian


Dave Doughman can swear at as many freakin' motorists as he damn well pleases; God knows he's earned it. Saying the past year has been pretty shitty for him, is like saying the current Middle East crisis is merely a slight misunderstanding between neighbors. Yep, 2001 was not kind to Dave, as a matter of fact, it was pretty hellish. In no short order: his drummer and best friend, Don Thrasher, quit the band during the middle of a tour; he had his tour van searched by customs officials in Canada, had the van towed twice in a separate incidents, then totaled the same van shortly thereafter; broke up with his longtime girlfriend; and, in a classic case of wrong place, wrong time, witnessed something he probably shouldn't have and became an unwilling participant in a Federal racketeering case. As a result of the latter, he was sequestered in Philadelphia for a number of months, with the looming possibility of being forced to hide from the mafia under an assumed name.

Fast forward to spring of this year. Everything ended up working out—he didn't end up having to testify—and on the surface, he doesn't appear to be bitter or too worse for the wear. That is until you hear his latest effort, the Along The Inclined Plane EP.

I first heard the new record on one of those epic, late night, 20-hour drives through the middle of nowhere, with ten hours of nothingness left to go. Nothing was on the radio, I was sick to death of the discs I brought, not to mention my traveling companion and I had run out of things to talk about hours previously. Just then, I remembered the night before Dave had slipped me a copy of the new record as I dropped him off at his van, after a lackluster party that closed out South By Southwest. As soon as I put the disc in, I was immediately struck by the sheer poignancy of his lyrics on the the first song, "Small Town, Big City." As he sings: "When I go out at night, I wear an alcohol disguise because nobody wants to see the real thing/and everybody knows and nobody talks about you 'round me/small town that's how it goes and I guess I should have known by the trail you left leading to me," I could hear the bitterness dripping from each and every syllable. Brian McTear's (Trouble With Sweeney, Matt Pond PA) impecable production on this record makes for a very intimate affair. On that lonely deserted highway, as I listened to Doughman spout off the last verse, in his typical conversational tone: "I hope you hear this song on the jukebox on the bar and it makes you feel as stupid as me/ When you realize everybody knows and they're looking you listening to me, singing 'fuck you and your butler'," it felt like Dave was sitting next to me in my car, singing to his ex on a cell phone.

Three reasons this EP is a must have for Motorists fans: the brief (less than a minute long) "Paul Williams," a gritty rocker featuring Doughman ranting, through layers of heavily processed vocals, about Paul Williams. Truthfully, the only lyrics I can decipher are: "Paul Williams" and "He has a real cool Dog," so I don't know if he's referring to someone he knows or everyone's favorite, has-been, little man entertainer, the Paul Williams. Doesn't matter, it is so short you'll wish it was longer and so infectious, you'll listen to it over and over again. Doughman also serves up a strirring rendition of Steve Earle's "I'm Still In Love With You," that is arguably, as good, if not better, than the original. Finally, "Breathing Water (Relax)" finds Doughman noodling with a rare instrumental that's reminiscent of Radiohead's "Spinning Plates."

The rest of the record, with the exception of the "Paul Williams," and "Breathing Water (Relax)" is classic, albeit more sedate, Motorists, as beautful and sullen as ever. Along The Inclined Plane should definitely hold fans over until the band releases their next full-length, This Flag Signals Goodbye, in June.

Dave Herrera

Track List:

  1. Small Town, Big City
  2. 24, 40 or 65
  3. Can't Help Ourselves
  4. Paul Williams
  5. I'm Still In Love With You
  6. Can't Get You Out Of My Head
  7. Beathing Water (Relax)

 

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