joel r.l. phelps & the downer trio Gala (CD, £10.75)label: Damnably
Joel R.L. Phelps & The Downer Trio’s fifth outing is a post-punk record. Gala is also a post-addiction and post-recovery record; It's been a full decade since the recording of Phelps' last LP, Customs; during this time we have seen very little of Phelps' human and musical utilisation rate, only now to find a recovery and return Joel R.L. Phelps is from Billings, MT, and currently resides in Vancouver, BC. He came to be known by a moderately-sized but extremely fanatical group of fans throughout the world as a founder and member of the group Silkworm. Gala was recorded by Troy Glessner (Propagandhi, Damien Jurado, Pedro the Lion), who recorded the majority of the previous JRLP&DT output. This is the first album the band has made in almost a decade, but Phelps’ haunting vocals and song writing abilities are undiminished. The album deals with loss, game changes and redemption. Like many artists whose base materials revolve around melancholy and fury, Phelps has weathered something of a storm in his personal life preceding this recording, which provided much of it’s content. Unlike some of his peers and contemporaries, he has lived to tell the tale. Add this with his extraordinary abilities as a writer, singer and guitar player, and you have a work of frenzied creative power. "Joel R.L. Phelps has put out some of the most compelling 3:00am-and-a-bottle-o'-booze music around." - Jeremy Schneyer, Pitchfork. “You can hear Neil Young and Paul Westerberg amid this onslaught of Pearl Jam-esque guitars and chunka-chunka rhythms…. Phelps’ voice has the same jagged sincerity and believability as Westerberg’s that makes you think he could sell you anything.” - PopMatters.
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