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The Places We Lived

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Album Review

Backyard Tire Fire fits in with the current wave of rock & roll revivalists like the Drive-By Truckers, Marah, Dr. Dog, and Hold Steady. While the Illinois-based band hasn't yet developed DBT's strong sense of regionalism or matched Marah's or Hold Steady's character-rich story-songs, their music is full of virtues. BTF's third studio disc starts off strongly with their terrific title track. The tune places wry memories of a childhood home ("dad's cursing at the tv (while) Mom said to take a shower/gotta get ready for church") with a laid-back melody that recalls Wilco during its A.M. era. "Shoulda Shut It" — a song about a man who's "in the business of regret" — serves up a catchy soulful American pop groove that also ventures into Jeff Tweedy territory without overstaying its influences. Speaking of influences, BTF frontman Ed Anderson has sung about wanting to be Tom Petty and Petty-ian qualities surface in "Welcome to the Factory" and "Everybody's Down." The former, dealing with workaday dreariness, intriguingly combines big Mike Campbell-style riffs with some elements that feel almost Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon in nature. The latter song, meanwhile, offers one of Anderson's most affecting vocals, as he resignedly admits, "sometimes I don't think I can do it anymore." Another emotionally moving track is the simple but straight-from-the-heart, "Home Today." This love-song-from-the-road number along with the slacker-ish, "cold coffee (and) warm cigarettes" ballad "Rainy Day (Don't Go Away)" find Anderson settled down at the piano. These quieter tunes provide a nice respite from the disc's more rock-based tracks. "Time with You," one of Anderson's "missin' you" love tunes, motors along effortlessly on chunky guitar riffs and the rhythm section's driving beat. BTF reaches its balls-out rock peak, however, on "How in the Hell Did You Get Back Here?," a raucous Southern rock rave-up that is easy to imagine as a crowd-pleaser live. Even when a song's lyrics are a little less than inspiring (like "Legal Crime" and "One Wrong Turn"), the tunes still hold some interesting musical ideas. Exhibiting sturdy musical growth and maturity, BTF populates the impressively constructed The Places We Lived with rootsy rock & roll that is both familiar and fresh.


Formed: Bloomington, IL

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s

Based in Bloomington, IL, Backyard Tire Fire is an alt-country trio led by singer, songwriter, slide guitarist, and former Brother Jed member Ed Anderson. Bassist Matt Anderson (Ed's brother) and drummer Tim Kramp complete the group, whose music draws from folk, country, and blues traditions. The band issued an eponymous album, 2003's Backyard Tire Fire, before partnering with O.I.E. Records for the release of Live at the Georgia Theatre, an energetic concert recording taken from a show on October...
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The Places We Lived, Backyard Tire Fire
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