ALBUM REVIEW: Tex Crick, Live...In New York City
Throughout the last five or six years, there has been a wide range of Australian musicians reviving the sounds of vintage American rock. Alex Cameron emulated Bruce Springsteen to write his stripper-on-the-run tale on “Runnin’ Outta Luck”, meanwhile Genesis Owusu and Kirin J Callinan jumped on a track about depression that sounds like Don Henley’s “Boys of the Summer” (stream “Drown” and his new album Smiling With No Teeth). The newest edition to this trend is Tex Crick, an Aussie singer-songwriter who is the first artist signed to Mac Demarco’s new record label. How fitting is it that someone like Mac, who has spent his career bringing back the sounds of Steely Dan and American psych rock, would help continue this trend?
On Live In...New York City (who’s physical packaging made it clear that this is NOT a live album) was recorded from top to bottom by Crick in his NYC apartment, with some additional production details added later. It’s sound has the cig-blasting lazy wisdom of Demarco coupled with the accent and vocal depth of Kirin J Callinan. Even with those similarities present, structurally and performance-wise, Crick is really doing his own thing. On “Nothing Will Change My Mind”, he lays down the formula. We get a very simple and elongated chorus “nothings...gonna...change...my....mind”) followed by extended jamming on piano, guitar and keyboard. The guitar parts in general on this album feel like their own artist, they are so filled with sunshine and personality, their tones cut through the mix without sticking out like a sore thumb.
Crick is so accurately able to capture that lo-fi New York warmth with ease. The upright drums and solemn melodies really capture the somber beauty of the city on a misty fall day. The opening and closing tracks really drive that point home, sounding like they could be intro and epilogue tracks to Annie Hall. “Spinster St. I&II” also goes for similar moods, jam sessions at the local diner around the block, complete with the sounds of silverware clanking. This album is like a sedative in how relaxed it makes me feel, it’s as if Joe Pera decided that one day he’d make a rock record. The thing that keeps the record from making me doze off, however, is the songwriting and the jams.
There are so many pretty synth and vocal melodies, extended jams and catchy choruses, there is a human quality to this record that Mac really lacked on Here Comes The Cowboy. “Sometimes I Forget” has a really well done moment in the beginning where the pianos descend and drums follow, and then Crick sings “My heart is skipping like a stone/I’m hooked on you through and through/I love everything you do”, that just feels so honest and perfectly placed. “Supernatural” possesses many of the same warm qualities, again those bright guitars just shine down and give so much life to the lyrical content and melodies, they underline the skipping drums and swing of the track.
I will say that I am definitely not a fan of “Peaches & Cream” or “Always On My Mind”, these tracks get too lost in the sauce for my opinion. “Peaches & Cream” has a chorus that kind of irritates me and it feels redundant after three songs that go for it’s same tone, it’s definitely the weakest non-interlude track of the bunch. Thank God “The Way You Are” provides such a strong closer to the whole affair. It’s instrumentally rich, with blasts of guitar, light drums, twinkling keys, and overlapping piano chords coming in as soon as the track starts, it reminds me of a collaboration between Ariel Pink and Drugdealer. The track closes on the best jam session of the entire record as well, it’s basically just jazz, where each instrument is taking its turn soloing and freewheeling as Crick remains silent.
The sleepy atmosphere of this album is what ultimately makes it win. It just feels so effortlessly New York, and that’s impressive coming from a guy who probably hasn’t lived here too long. It makes me feel like after a long day of lounging and reading at Central Park, I decide to stop into a restaurant and they just have a guy in there playing his ass off. These songs don’t feel like originals, they somehow already sound like standards. At first, I really was not into that at all. The record felt a little too vintage and a little too gray, but with repeat listens I’ve really begun to see the color in what Tex does, and I hope you will too.