Release Date: Sep 2, 2008
Record label: Yep Roc
Genre(s): Rock, Alternative, Country
More shadows and mirages from desert rock’s central shamanAmerican deserts spawn rich and convoluted musical chains. In the same way that the tangled Masters of Reality/Queens of the Stone Age/Desert Sessions/Kyuss clique corkscrews through the heart of hard rock, the Friends of Dean Martinez/Calexico/Giant Sand family tree entraps the live roots of modern Americana.Sixteen albums in, Howe Gelb’s visions are darker and still subtler than those of his musical cousins. With a rasp that often strangely resembles Shawn Mullins, Gelb’s raps are cooler than a caved gila monster’s stomach scales.
Giant Sand's Howe Gelb once accused his old rhythm section - Joey Burns and John Convertino, now Calexico - of "working against" his band, so it was inevitable that they parted ways. Gelb has now become synonymous with Americana and the sound of the Arizona desert, and his songs look at love and loss in latter-day America. While some lack musical polish, the brilliant Spiral - with its images of Americans hiding away with guns and in churches and heading towards heart attacks and extinction - furthers his metamorphosis into one of the country's great musical elder statesmen.
Unfortunately, Howe Gelb, Giant Sand's frontman, isn't settling down in Canada. He did record his last solo disc with a gospel choir from Ottawa - and it was so good he should have been granted citizenship on the spot. Instead, he's reverted back to his old ways. Like his other work, Provisions is a haunting, alt-countryish record that's not unlike the Silver Jews' latest work.
Even if he wanted to, Howe Gelb couldn’t repeat himself. Just watch him sing sometime; the guy’s got two vocal mics, one distorted, one clean, and he doesn’t make up his mind which one he’ll be singing into until he’s halfway through his line. The same goes for his albums. Some of them are so murky and confusing you’ll lose your way to your own bathroom while they’re playing, while others walk right up and declare themselves.