After 5 albums, one might think that Slim Cessna's Auto
Club would've settled on a particular sound, but the band
continues to push the boundaries and force the evolution of
a genre that has been labeled as alt-country, gothic western,
dark salvation, and others. The only thing less set in stone
than the band's "sound" is its ever-changing line
up. The apocalyptic dread that first settled over the band in
Always Say Please And Thank You, all shade and gloom,
is a storm that still hasn't broken. The darker elements in
albums past frequently had a sense of internal conflict where
each member seemed to be wrestling with demons literal and figurative.
But, with multi-tracked vocals in several of the songs, the
band all seems to not only be on the same page, but actual "ciphers"
of an ethereal message, and that's more than just a little frightening.
They see the world as crooked with sin, and have brought their
iron braces to bend the will of the world into their newfound
order. Seen live, the emaciated corpse of Jay Munly mixed
with the withering arch of judgment in the crux of Dwight
Pentecost's eyebrow, and the fevered possession of the reedy
Slim himself create a spectacle so absorbing and hypnotic
that even a snake handlin' fundamentalist would tell the boys
to turn things down a notch.
But, hidden in the album's core, beneath the veneer of holy
certainty, is a resolute doubt in the message purveyed by any
sort of demagoguery, including their own. They, (we) are all
guilty: fallible men, burdened by their own sins and foibles,
yet the lighthearted humor that has been a hallmark of their
music, while getting harder to discern, is still the light that
won't be extinguished, no matter how heavy, how stifling the
P.S. Another nice tradition of this band is how they keep their
production all in the family. Their cover art is never sourced
out, and this one is no different (H.D. Reynolds, married
to a band member, and former cartoonist for the popular Denver
'zine, The Hooligan). Band member John Rumley makes
many of the band's instruments. Former band member (and director
of the delightfully trashy cult horror film Skinned Alive
who is also an alumnus of The Hooligan) Jon Killough
designed the cipher linocut typeset, and photographer Gary
Isaacs is a personal and professional friend of this band
and several others who make up the genre known as "The Denver
Sound." His work, appropriately, captures the bleak and spartan
essences of gothic western ideals, and is a natural choice to
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