Release Date: Sep 29, 2009
Record label: Arena Rock
Genre(s): Rock, Alt-Country
Full disclosure: in mid-2005, I spent a reasonably significant period believing that Richmond Fontaine’s sixth studio album, The Fitzgerald, was quite possibly the Best Thing That Had Ever Happened. And not merely in music; oh no. Just, y’know, generally. Penning it while holed up for two weeks in Nevada’s eponymous Fitzgerald casino, Portland-based author, frontman and acclaimed lyricist Willy Vlautin emerged brandishing an almost debilitatingly elegiac hate-letter to Middle America’s motel-loitering underclass of pimps, gamblers, runaways and lot lizards.
There are many analogues for Richmond Fontaine. Their almost-but-not-quite unhinged country sound and fondness for atmospherics are reminiscent of Wilco and pre-genre-hopping Ryan Adams. Lyricist, singer, and general mastermind Willy Vlautin’s tales of the drunk and down-and-out evoke Darkness-era Springsteen and American Music Club. Inevitably, Richmond Fontaine are not quite as good on We Used to Think the Freeway Sounded Like a River, as that combination would suggest.