Sunday, June 5, 2011

Tim Avram - Review Awards Winner

Tim Avram’s Elastic Fantastic, Auto-erotic, Folk-Rock & Roll Vision
Our Saving Grace
Modern Spirituals with One Foot in Hell

Tim Avram is a tattooed and spanked “take me home and make me like it” punk rocker disguised as an under the radar country roots musician, a wolf dressed in sheep’s clothing. For the last nine years, Avram has fronted various incarnations of the last great punk band - The Mongrels. It may be surprising to some but to me it makes perfect sense that Avram grew up learning the mandolin from Zydeco Ziggie while grandma played the banjo as she spit chew tobacco and drooled a gooey stream of unseemly profanity. Yep country punk was born.

Avram is philosophical when asked his reaction to winning the nomination for best solo singer, “Ahh…yeah. Hmm. I don’t expect anything ever. You never know. I can’t always tell if the audience likes it or not during a show, the applause can be…polite. It’s hard to tell if people appreciate what you’re doing when you’re doing what you want to do - not playing songs they want to hear and playing my songs and hoping they like it.”

As for the future Avram has modest yet big plans. “Well, I just want to get this CD out. I’ve been working on it for months. I’m recording with Sean Drysdale of the Banana Convention. He does all the mixing and he gets the sound right. He’s making it amazing. I’m playing the guitars, banjo, mandolin, lap steel, and drums. Sean works the bass, plays an old accordion and sprinkles awesome on everything. The working title is “The EP”. I feel that naming the CD is the last piece in the process. The most difficult thing for me is being able to say, “I think that one is done.” You are putting your own stamp on the music when you play all the instruments. It forces you to say “this song is done.” This is a folk album …I think. It’s got some traditional 20th century simplicity to it.”

Avram picked five songs out of notebook of ‘how many’ he wrote. He used songs that fit together well in a cohesive musical statement that builds on the theme of loneliness. It’s a Tom Waits inspired form of neo-realism in which every song tells a story.

The disc opens with Danny O’ Dell a stark narrative about a lock up and dirty turn-keys and prison goons who spit out threats with a sneer. But it’s a cruel fate when life outside can be much worse.

There are electric and acoustic versions of Lover – same obscure lyrics but a different energy that shades meaning. Avram sings “The bridges in this town are good for jumping off an awkward rhyme that repeats itself.” If that’s not obscure enough the bridge is even more elusive, “Pack of 25’s with a cowboy on the side/love is not as tough as he thinks he is.” But Avram assures us that “flirting with the reverend never made it any better/’cos this time I’m not F****** around.”

The sounds of thunder and rain help create the emotional inner landscape of 5 Ton Kill. Accordion splashes and minor chord musings color the aural landscape. The music is cast in sepia tones that beckon you inside to feel the loneliness wash over in a silent mist. This is a ghost story, a wife waiting for her soldier to come home. He never makes it back

Work is an in your face polemic on modern man’s relationship to technology and the cold reality of declining cities, broken families and the ascendance of hegemony and never ending war . The sparse minimalist arrangement - acoustic guitar, popping bass lines and mandolin is the perfect vehicle to convey Avram’s understated horror. The family moves to where the auto jobs are “down to St Johns” and in a “flick of a switch now they’re making bombs.” WORK, WORK, WORK.”

The lyricism of END is a masterful . Here Avram connects personal images with universal themes through metaphorical images of “babies born on Easter and never wondering why” and “floods, hurricanes and snow in July”. He sings about an old sidewinder in the belly of hell, a time when people danced, and making it back to Saginaw. He’s seen “this and that and other things too” and just chalked it up to life on the road as a touring musician. Sometimes the loneliness sneaks up on you.

This is new millennium soul music that is in stark contrast to the business controlled Living Dead music business that is connected to life supports by flash drives that control and disseminate bread and circuses to a public quaking with eternal ennui while being spoon fed pharmaceutical solutions to problems that don’t exist… or not.

Pick it up and Pass it on
Bo White

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