This is the second solo album by the former Screaming Trees drummer turned singer/songwriter/front man, who went on to record with Neko Case, Jim Carroll, and Nirvana.
There’s a cinematic vibe to the collection of originals, with Pickerel’s seductive singing sitting amid mostly stark production (courtesy Steve Fisk, who previously helmed Nirvana, Screaming Trees, and Wedding Present) that befits the desolate feel of the lyrics and deadpan-but-expressive vocal delivery, especially on the set’s sole cover, Dylan’s “One More Cup Of Coffee.”
Comparisons to Lee Hazelwood are apt, and make sense, seeing as he was part of Mark’s parents’ record collection. The influence of Bowie’s rootsier, “Jean Genie” side rears its head on the opening title track and “Cody’s Last Ride,” which brings the song cycle full circle.
Johnny Sangster (whose own production credits include Mudhoney, the F***ing Eagles, and the Briefs) provides an array of cool guitar tones, from tremolo twang to Tex-Mex double-stops to reverby rockabilly on “Leaving With The Swamptones.” Ian Moore joins him, supplying steel, the “raunch-hand” guitar on the title track, and the appropriately repetitive, brittle solo on “She Calls.”
The Northwest all-star ensemble is rounded out by bassist Jim Sangster (Young Fresh Fellows), drummer Michael Musburger (Supersuckers, Fastbacks, Posies), and the haunting cello of Barb Hunter (Afghan Whigs, Twilight Singers).
There’s a decided country element here, but it’s as though Leonard Cohen were fronting the Flying Burrito Brothers. Not a bad idea, come to think of it.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Jun. ’08 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.