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No Silver/No Gold

The Baptist Generals

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Album Review

A deeply strange, personal album, the Baptist Generals' No Silver/No Gold is much more than the sum of its parts. The group plays the kind of spare, threadbare indie rock that flirts with folk and country without committing to either; Chris Flemmons' biting, nasal vocals are the audio equivalent of vinegar, cutting through the band's shambling racket of strummy acoustic guitars, cellos, organs, and bashed drums bringing No Silver/No Gold together as a remarkably fresh and vital album, despite — or perhaps because of — its ornery ways. On songs like "Ay Distress," a heartfelt, acoustic ballad that's interrupted abruptly by violent studio commotion, the Baptist Generals come across as both sensitive and unhinged, a mix of Dylanesque insight and trippy ferocity that recalls Roky Erickson. This volatility, along with the gritty recording quality (which gives No Silver/No Gold so much character that it should be credited as a member of the band) makes each song teeter unpredictably between beauty and ugliness. The haltingly lovely "Going Back Song," the scruffy "Preservatine" and the spacey "Feds on the Highway," tend more toward the former; "Alcohol (Turn & Fall)" and "Burning" tend toward the latter, their raw guitars and vocals sounding as though they're going to sear the speakers. Then there are the downright uncomfortable moments: On "Creeper," Flemmons repeats "Hey little girl, I had a swell old time tonight" over and over backed by a banged acoustic guitar and uneasy tambourines; "On a Wheel" pairs heavily distorted guitars and drums with Flemmons' yelps, making him sound like a man who's half out of his mind with pain. Indeed, much of No Silver/No Gold was created in response to the ordeal he went through when his father died, and Flemmons' willingness to include the ugly and angry in this album makes it that much more brave and distinctive. Even fans of lo-fi and willful singer-songwriters may find No Silver/No Gold a little too rough to fully embrace, but it's still an oddly compelling and moving collection of songs.

Customer Reviews

Ahead of yesterday

No Silver/ No Gold would sound better on blown out speakers. It's like Doug Martsch from Built to Spill is coming down from a three week mescaline binge with a gun in one hand and a can of PBR in the other. And he wants to talk about art.

Baptized

Flemmons beautifully strained vocals embellish the lo-fi folk fury provided by Reimer, Hill, and Williams on tracks such as "Alcohol" and "Burning" while lulling you on others such as "Diminished" and "Ay Distress". A personal favorite is "Going Back Song". It has the feel of a cool country ride through the backroads small town America. I suppose if you want to compare this to other artists you might liken these guys to a grittier bipolar version of Iron & Wine. Or a more stripped down, uninhibited Wilco. Yes, I said it. Give it time, let it soak. You too will be baptized.

Biography

Formed: 1998 in Denton, Texas

Genre: Alternative

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

Crafting lo-fi, acoustic indie rock that draws comparisons to artists like Roky Erickson, the Band, Will Oldham, and Howlin' Wolf, Denton, Texas' the Baptist Generals feature main members singer/guitarist Chris Flemmons and drummer Steven Hill. Originally named the Poor Bastard Sons, the group formed in the late '90s and mixed folk and country sounds and song structures with an indie rock attitude. Flemmons was a drummer for eight years before switching to guitar (teaching himself to play on a largely...
Full Bio
No Silver/No Gold, The Baptist Generals
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