For nearly a decade, Steve Gunn has been known as one of the best, if not unheralded, guitarists in music. He has worked closely with indie rocker Kurt Vile as a member of his band The Violators and collaborated on several, trance-inducing, instrumental projects, such as the Golden Gunn album that he collaborated with M.C. Taylor of Hiss Golden Messenger. Last year, Gunn took the first major leap to being more than just a musician but towards being acknowledged as a singer-songwriter. With Time Off, Gunn’s reputation expanded, as the 2013 album showed that Gunn could craft thoughtful and vivid songs that matched his superb guitar skills. The album was also a bit of departure, as Gunn swayed towards jams that were more accessible yet at the same time distinctive.
This year, the Philadelphia-bed, Brooklyn-based guitarist and singer-songwriter returns with Way Out Weather, and it is an instant classic. Demonstrating his ongoing progression both as a guitarist and songwriter, Gunn takes on, what he calls, a “heady and elliptical travelogue”. From blues to roots to ’60s-era rock ‘n roll to Americana to folk to psychedelia, Way Out Weather is an expansive journey of sound and memories. The album, though, doesn’t come out punching but instead warmly welcomes you with the dreamy, alt-country title track. “Wildwood” builds on the warm sentiments of “Way Out Weather” with a cool, bluesy vibe.
It’s not until the fantastic third track, “Milly’s Garden”, where Gunn takes us in a different direction. The song blares of the Rolling Stones in their heyday of the ’60s – a cool, laid-back, classic-rock sounding tune. Even from Gunn’s vocals and to the lyrics of the song, you can hear Gunn channel Mick Jagger. Over the tinging of the pedal steel, the groovy keys, and the clear notes of the electric guitar, Gunn sings, “You’re faith is savaged, and your mind is damaged. You’re more than halfway there. That place is wrong, but you’ve moved on. You’re already gone.”
“Shadow Bros“ is a slow, southern blues-inspired track which is followed by a country-folk track, “Fiction”, which arguably best showcases Gunn’s finger-plucking skills on the acoustic guitar. “Drifter” is a straight-forward, rock tune in the mold of Widespread Panic that likely would see Gunn and his bandmates completely jam out the track. The appropriately titled “Atmosphere” has Gunn return to his avant-garde ways, and the dreamy track has hints of Middle Eastern notes.
The album ends with the epic and sterling “Tommy’s Congo”. From the slow-burn approach to the haunting vibe to the exquisite storytelling of the protagonist battling the demons within and around him, the track hypnotizes and provocates. It is an absolutely brilliant track that will likely many end of year “best songs” lists. It is the perfect ending to an album and the opposite of how it began. Whereas “Way Out Weather” invites you in, “Tommy’s Congo” entrances and leaves you wanting more. At 8 tracks running over 43 minutes, we are left with that feeling – an album we don’t want to end.
Way Out Weather is out now on Paradise of Bachelors, and it can be purchased at iTunes, Amazon, and the Paradise of Bachelors store. Steve Gunn and his band are currently on tour, and dates are below.
Wed-Oct-08 – Bloomington, IN @ The Bishop (Tyler Damon opens)
Thu. Oct. 9 – Nashville, TN @ The Stone Fox
Fri. Oct. 10 – Durham, NC @ Pinhook
Sat-Oct-11 – Charlottesville,VA @ Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar
Sun-Oct-12 – Brooklyn,NY @ Rough Trade
Mon. Oct. 13 – Boston, MA @ The Great Scott
Tue. Oct. 14 – Montreal, Quebec @ Vitrola
Wed-Oct-15 – Toronto,Ontario @ The Drake
Fri-Oct-17 – Philadephia, PA @ PhilaMOCA
Mon. Oct. 27 – Berlin, DE @ Heimathafen w/ The War On Drugs
Tue. Oct. 28 – Amsterdam, NL @ Paradiso w/ The War On Drugs
Fri. Oct. 31 – Zurich, CH @ Kaufleuten w/ The War On Drugs
Sat. Nov. 1 – Luxembourg, LU @ Rockhal w/ The War On Drugs
Sun. Nov. 2 – Brussels, BE @ Ancienne Belgique w/ The War On Drugs
Tue. Nov. 4 – Liverpool, UK @ O2 Academy w/ The War On Drugs
Wed. Nov. 5 – London, UK @ Roundhouse w/ The War On Drugs
Thu. Nov. 6 – Bristol, UK @ O2 Academy w/ The War On Drugs
Fri. Nov. 7 – Manchester, UK @ The Ritz w/ The War On Drugs
Sat. Nov. 8 – Glasgow, UK @ O2 ABC Glasgow w/ The War On Drugs
Wed. Nov. 12 – London, UK @ Cafe Oto w/ Mike Cooper
Thu. Nov. 13 – St. Leonards, UK @ Kave Gallery
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