“Same old bullshit, different bar. Hey, what’s your poison?”
Well, yes, Woodland Hunters, that’s about it.
There’s a recognition here in the only half humorous cliché that you choose your methods of (slow, not always quiet) death. It’s an adult choice: when you’re old enough to know yourself, to know the risks, it’s your call how you get to the end.
But hey, your poison isn’t just the demon drink, or the sacred ‘erb, or even the cracked pipe. Oh hell no. Sometimes your poison is flesh and blood and retribution-in-waiting. The demon made real.
As Andrew Tanner sings, in what you might call a romantic gesture and someone else might call a death warrant, “She says you’re trash, but you’re my trash baby, let’s pull the strings, let’s do this thing, and see what happens.”
After all, what could go wrong? Apart from everything.
Still, if there’s some consolation in an – inevitable? – end, that features spit and bile, “there’s no shame in making mistakes”. And Woodland Hunters songs aren’t short of, or afraid of, people making mistakes.
Not when there’s a kind of wasted beauty in the retelling like the slow country rock burn of Lost In Someone Else’s Dream, a song that is equal parts wisdom hard won and confession that this wisdom will probably be thrown aside next time temptation rises.
People used to say that the Rolling Stones, whose spirit filters through so much of Let’s Fall Apart, were the adults – dirty of mind and action; harder of heart and resolve – to the Beatles’ greater well of optimism.
If you liked your pop, your communal trust and your hope that love this time would work, you’d choose the Liverpudlians and hang on to your childhood. If you leant to the blues, suspected that everyone was out for themselves and thought yourself, to borrow from Woodland Hunters, a “wise blood”, then the Londoners were the only adult choice.
But look closely and the Stones were really boys trying on the clothes of men like they were trying on the blues, figuring that they’d grow into it all sooner or later. Fake it til you make it. And let’s face it, that’s pretty much the story for many (most? all?) boys-to-men isn’t it?
They want to be the man who is at ease and in control, like the languorous soul rock which opens Rise Above It (the rhythm section of drummer Leroy Cope and bass player Cam Prestipino loose on top, super tight beneath) who has it in him to turn into the swaggering cock-of-the-walk, like that song’s climax (where the guitars of Ross Richard, Tanner and producer Shane O’Mara kick up from wah-wah to punchy).
If they’re lucky maybe they’ll never know the difference between wished-for and reality. Maybe they won’t ever have to learn the lesson told among acoustic guitars and wistful tones in Meteor that “that won’t make me happy”.
It’s unlikely, but let ‘em dream eh? Like the clowns attending to your needs in the nightmarish – but we are assured real – hotel in Circus Circus, maybe the frighteners will just be temporary or just another Las Vegas façade.
Or maybe life will smack them on the arse anyway.
Well yeah Woodland Hunters, maybe that’s about it.
Bernard Zuel July, 2017
“the best way I can describe their sound is ‘ragged glory'”
Jeff Jenkins (774, RRR)
“the cream of the crop of new releases… this album is just terrific, I’ve played it over and over”
Stephen Walker (Skull Cave)
“‘Apes Making Plans’ reminds me of The Meters…and that’s a good thing”
Brian Wise (Off The Record RRR)