Well, it’s not the catchiest title for an album, but the new Live at Haw River Ballroom from NICK LOWE & LOS STRAITJACKETS is certainly a compelling concert. This download-only show was recorded in April 2019 in Saxapahaw, NC, presumably in the backyard of the artists’ record label, YepRoc. It’s also a good bet that this live show wasn’t planned for release until the coronavirus came around to keep us out of our favorite record stores (or from ordering “non essential” physical format items online).
Here on Haw River Lowe & His Straitjackets spend an hour and a half taking spins through Nick’s considerable power pop back catalog, as well as a handful of their more recent collaborations. Of the former you’ll hear classics like “So It Goes,” “Cruel to Be Kind” and “Heart of the City,” and of the latter there are the rockabilly-ish “Tokyo Bay,” “Love Starvation” and the cozy cover tune “Raincoat in the River” (all three of which appeared on a pair of 2018 and ’19 EPs). You also get a half dozen surf-style instrumentals by Los Straitjackets “solo” (including themes to both Batman and that dreadful movie, Titanic). Why, there’s even a sneak peek at Lowe/Los’ upcoming single, “Lay It On Me, Baby,” which is scheduled to appear on another EP later this spring. Very nice.
Now, I’m not one who typically buys download product, but there are times when a man who’s hunkered down has to hunker down and succumb to the music delivery mode du jour. As in, when a guy’s gotta go with the flow and support his favorite artists. Whether that’s downloading concerts that may have never been released (like this one) or purchasing a Patreon-style subscription to a favorite singer (such as Robyn Hitchcock’s), we must do what it takes until austerity measures are lifted. YepRoc plans to release more of this type of download in the near future, so here’s hoping they’ll put out some vintage Dream Syndicate, Minus 5 and Robyn Hitchcock concerts for us to dig while we’re still dug in. — Marsh Gooch
3.5/5 (YepRoc download, 2020)