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Purge & Slouch

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Album Review

In comparison to the previous few Giant Sand records, Purge and Slouch was an exercise in recording almost for the heck of it, with a loose lineup of eight other performers, with Rainer Ptacek again back in the fold for a bit, assisting the Gelb/Convertino/Burns trio. The liner notes explain the casual nature of the whole thing, which was in fact recorded in the living room, guest bedroom, and porch of one Harvey Moltz, who helped record it all. Gelb himself sounded bemused at the end results, but, taking it as it is, Purge and Slouch is a fun treat; a lengthy release (nearly a full CD's worth) with an agreeably relaxed vibe. Any guesses that the home-based recording and seemingly informal atmosphere would result in nothing but acoustic hoedowns are abolished with the opening drum slam and feedback screech of "Slander." With that as a wake-up call, things generally take a calmer turn for the remainder of the album, touching on both unplugged shuffles and subtly electrified approaches, including some intriguingly nervous, edgy efforts like the amusingly titled "Santana, Castaneda and You." Unsurprisingly, there's also a fair amount of sheer weirdness, like the very odd tape collage "Overture (Part 1)," and sharp, wry humor, like the barbed lament on cultural cooptation "Elevator Music," one of the few times where everybody fully rocks out for a bit. There's one cover on the album — a brief, murky take on Otis Redding's "Dock of the Bay" that's one of the more unusual such remakes around — while another strong point is the lengthy, haunting "Corridor," with backing vocals from previous Giant Sand guests Susan Cowsill and Vicki Peterson. Combine that with a variety of fragments and a generally loose atmosphere, and, while Purge and Slouch won't be the album to immediately convince a Giant Sand newcomer, fans will find it an engaging listen. Best song title of the bunch — "Song of the Accountants."


Formed: 1982 in Tuscon, AZ

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Giant Sand was the primary outlet for the stylistic curveballs and sun-damaged songcraft of Howe Gelb, a Pennsylvania-born singer/guitarist who formed the four-piece Giant Sandworms after relocating to Tuscon, Arizona in the mid-'70s. After releasing the EP Will Wallow and Roam After the Ruin in 1980, Gelb fired everyone but bassist Scott Gerber (although founding guitarist Rainer Ptacek returned to the fold many times in the future) and started over as simply Giant Sand, essentially a one-man band...
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Purge & Slouch, Giant Sand
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