Thursday, July 7, 2011

Nick 13 - 'Nick 13'

It’s been four years since Tiger Army’s last, most excellent album, Music From Regions Beyond. Incorporating elements of psychobilly, hardcore, new wave, and country, it was Tiger Army’s biggest artistic triumph. It’s also marked a profound silence from the group, punctuated by the occasional show. Now in 2011, frontman Nick 13 has finally returned with his first solo album, an outing into pure country territory entitled, succinctly, Nick 13. The record is a marked departure from Tiger Army’s louder songwriting, something that might alienate TA’s fans but gain a few new ones in the process.

Nick 13 is not a rocking album. Sure, it revisits a couple of Tiger Army classics (“In the Orchard,” “Cupid’s Victim”), but even compared to the quiet country stylings of “Where the Moss Slowly Grows,” the record is something else entirely. This isn’t the punk rock approximation of country; it just is country of the ’ 60s/’70s variety. Gram Parsons is a strong reference point for sure. It’s a mellow affair, something that breezes by easily.

But that’s also to the record’s detriment. While it starts off strong with opener “Nashville Winter,” Nick 13 gradually blurs together. Yes, it’s a pleasant, sleepy record for late nights and sweltering summer days, but I’ll be darned if I can remember half the record once it’s over. It’s something to get lost in, not remembered.

Still, it’s great to get Nick 13 back, even if it is sans Tiger Army. His voice is as delicate as ever, which suits the material. While it’s an experiment in hero worship that I don’t entirely condone, it’s still amazing naturally suited 13 seems for the material. The result is a record that should appeal to diehards and new found country fans. Anyone in between in terms of Tiger Army fandom might be a little turned off, however.

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