FILTHY THIEVING BASTARDS: A Melody of Retreads and Broken Quills: CD

Aug 08, 2009

Usually when people say the word “acoustic,” I stop listening. I generally don’t care about the context. I figure that there are only so many things that you can do with a guitar before you plug it in, and I’ve pretty much heard all of those things. Then, the Filthy Thieving Bastards (who, in case you don’t know it, are Johnny and Darius from the Swingin’ Utters, plus a bunch of musicians helping out) come along and prove me wrong. I’m trying to figure out why I like this album so much. I think it has less to do with the acoustic sound and more to do with how they filled in the song around the guitar. Unlike the first FTB EP, this album has drums on every song. A subtle difference, but it pushes the music beyond that acoustic realm. Then, of course, there’s the accordion, violin, piano, organ, mandolin, pedal steel, and upright bass that flow into some of the songs, each in a different way so that all the songs sound unique, even though the tempo doesn’t change much. A lot of what makes this album cool has to do with the influences, too. Sure, as with everything from Johnny and Darius, the Pogues are a strong background, as are Irish folk songs. Flickers of the Clash come through, too, but not as much as on a Swingin’ Utters album. Unlike the Swingin’ Utters, though, this album throws in flashes of Johnny Cash and even snatches of late eighties college rock (maybe this has something to do with Greg Lisher from Camper von Beethoven helping out on a few songs [rumor has it that Greg thought that Johnny and Darius were skinheads, so he kept trying to take them bowling. Take them bowling]). When you mesh all of these factors together, the songs become something that you’ve never heard before: fleshed out and mesmerizing acoustic songs.

 –sean (BYO)