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Slim Cessna's Auto Club
Cipher
Alternative Tentacles Records
www.slimcessnasautoclub.com


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 darkness gets.

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 represent them.

Also, check out:
www.crowned.org
www.rumleywesternguitars.com
www.jonkillough.com
www.garyisaacs.com
To fill all your needs, Slim Cessna and otherwise.

-JD

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Mike Doughty



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