A nice six-song souvenir from 2002’s “Pussy and Beer” tour that I&W did with Buckcherry. Very much in the style of very Iron and Wine, these are unaccompanied home recordings, very low fidelity (they’d star JOAN Cusack), and if not for Beam’s unique and kindly inflections they wouldn’t go much of anywhere. But since this is I&W they cross into “pretty nice” easily, and a couple of them even have musical hooks (!). Of course, those are the ones that got remade and improved later.
Opener “The Sea and the Rhythm” (great name for an EP there!) is six minutes of lovely but ehhhh metaphors for sex as making sweet poetic love on a beach and doesn’t go much of anywhere musically. But neither do most Iron and Wine songs, right? Maybe this is great for new couples, I don’t know. I’m more into fucking, but that’s just me.
Seconder “Jesus the Mexican Boy” is a five minute reflection of a very nice guy named Jesus even though he isn’t Christ. The point of humanity needing to be good regardless of deity is well taken, but it also lacks a good musical hook, and while the way Beam says the song’s title is memorable, it bothers me that he pronounces it “Jesus” instead of like “Hay-Zooss.” Get it right, you racist!
Thirder and Fifther “Red Dust” and “Overhead” (later remade as “Burn That Broken Bed”) are the two most musically interesting tracks here. The former has a good stoic wild West riff thing going on, and the latter has a cool accent-on-syncopated-strums thing going on, but the former sputters out after just two minutes, and the latter lacks the muscle to make it a real standout. Like how critical I am, even of things I like a lot?
There’s also a forgettable track called “Someday the Waves” that never makes an impression on me, but the good thing about I&W is that even the backgrounders leave a nice taste in your ear. There’s also the closer “Dead Man’s Will,” which is one of my least favourite I&W tracks and seems doomed to follow me on to half of all releases. I mean, the lyrics are a list of all the things he’d give his relatives and the things they’d remind them of, but I think it’s more than a bit wishy-washy. His brother get a stone, his father a bone, and his mother a string. Yeah, yeah, supposedly they’re connected to sentimental memories, but you really think his mother is going to look at a string as the last memory of her dead son and think “oh yeah…that shirt I unfurled one time!” No. The answer is no.
But it’s nearly impossible to hate on this release, because even in its worst moments we have Sam Beam and his guitar being all likeable and Southern and such. This is completely unnecessary, since every song on here is available elsewhere, but it’s still charming.
7 / 10