Shotgun Jimmie – [Album]

Friday, 04 March 2011

After the demise of Shotgun & Jaybird in 2007, singer/guitarist “Shotgun” Jimmie Kilpatrick has managed to land on his feet and etch a pretty impressive mark on the Canadian underground (first with his 2007 solo debut, The Onlys, and then backed by Attack In Black for Still Jimmie in 2009) but, as reputable as he may have become now, it's clear in listening to Transistor Sister that the siren song of D.I.Y. alt-indie rock had been whispering to him again. How and why would anyone want to resist it? Clearly Kilpatrick asked the same question and, backed by drummer Ryan Peters and fellow S&J alumnus Jay Baird on bass, Shotgun Jimmie makes a rousing return to his roots for his third album.

The echoes of all the great guitar tones in the Nineties pop underground converge and sing out proudly from the moment Kilpatrick brings pick to string at the opening of “Late Last Year” and continue to resonate unwaveringly for the rest of the half hour that makes up Transistor Sister's run-time. Listeners will feel the uncontrollable urge to turn their stereos up as the song begins to build a head of steam, and that's because exactly nothing about this sound is ingenuine; there is no contrived polish here which would imply big-dollar “assistance,” nor is their any expansive or heroic career goal in mind, just the exposition of what Jim Kilpatrick wants to hear on this record, made without excuse, apology or pretense. Yes, there is a bit of sludge and fuzzy distortion on the low end contrasting against the poppy, doubled vocals that start around the song's one-minute mark, but that it's there is no accident. That mung is the byproduct of years spent touring, finger fungus on the guitarist's fretboard and tireless hours spent woodshedding and fine-tuning the song until it sounds perfect to the guitarist's own ears. That kind of thing is hard to find in a recording these days (they're often too clean and sterile) so, when listeners notice it here, they should treat it like the greatest gift; that gunk was left with love.

All that, and it might be hard to believe that the album is only one song in.

From there, Kilpatrick sets to dusting off some more treasures recovered from the decades-neglected underground (those who remember might be able to hear shadows of Eric's Trip, early Sloan and Pavement) and holds them up proudly for listeners to examine and savor along with him. The results of that examination are fantastic and bear rich fruit here; through songs including “Suzy,” “King Of Kreuzberg,” “Too Many Flowers,” “Swamp Magic” (where the guitarist paints every available surface with the same sort of dirt, sweat and goo that appeared on “Late Last Year”) and “Peace And Love,” Shotgun Jimmie exhumes some classic sounds like wheezing keyboards, classic guitar riffs and fantastically off-handed pop vocals and throws them all into the mix in an almost perfectly reckless way but, amazingly, the results come up a winner each time. How they fall together as perfectly as they do might never exactly be easy to gauge, but listeners will find themselves caring less about how it works (particularly toward the late-playing of the record, where sounds become more important than songs), and more about how much they're loving the work. In this particular case, listeners will find themselves caring more about the final results than the method by which they came together – which feels like exactly how a good rock-pop record should be.

The final impression listens will be left with as (fittingly enough) “Bar's Closed” shutters the windows on Transistor Sister is an elating sense of discovery. Sure – Shotgun Jimmie was getting deserved attention for his music before, but this album goes a step further than anyone could have expected; Transistor Sister is fantastically crafted but also very modestly made, it is a homegrown classic. This is the kind of record of the caliber that most artists would use as their calling card; it's certainly a defining record for Shotgun Jimmie, and the one by which all future releases should be judged.



Shotgun Jimmie – “Late Last Year” – Transistor Sister


Transistor Sister
comes out on March 8, 2011 on You've Changed Records in Canada, and on March 15, 2011 in the U.S. Pre-order it here on Amazon .

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