I'll Shoot You Ace I Swear to God
Barely a year after the home-recorded 'More Shit from the Bogus Captain,' received an onslaught of underground praise in his native Midwest, Quinn W. Shagbark has released yet another genre-busting collection of cellar door miscellany, 'I'll Shoot You Ace I Swear To God.' Recorded during brief fits of health and clarity, 'I'll Shoot You Ace' is a warts-and-all document of fast takes and spontaneous inspiration dressed up in the grandiose junkyard weirdness that has become Shagbark's trademark. Never before have his angular guitar-and-noise compositions sounded so organic and sensible, and never has his nuanced vocal delivery been so raggedly literate and authoritative. Shagbark's tasteful, mournful, furious sensibilities unmistakably color his performance on drums, bass, guitar, keyboards, mandolin, washing machine, tent stake, 2x4, drainage pipe, ventilation duct, and various pieces of soldering equipment. Often likened to post-'70s-classic-rock bands such as Pavement, Built to Spill, and Sonic Youth, Shagbark's latest effort continues along a trajectory that has also (somewhat perversely) inspired comparisons to Jim Croce, Warren Zevon, Barry Lyndon, and Don DeLillo. Thematically, 'I'll Shoot You Ace' noses through the garbage of the western United States, stumbling upon grim secrets buried deep under the soil during a fictional time which proves to be an amalgamation of all times. It is history's excuse for yesterday's coffee. Shagbark's characters are haunted by a suspicion that westward expansion may have come at a steep price, and that somewhere in the shadows a nameless entity has been lurking around waiting to collect. This deep-rooted paranoia bears down on the lives, relationships, and dreams of those who inhabit Shagbark's universe. In 'Yardsale,' even the best of summer days is undercut by a suspicion of wrongdoing, and 'Roadside Attraction' could just as easily be describing a walk in the fields as a mass murder. 'Indian Bones' begs the question, 'Why is this happening?' while the answer crouches low, hiding just outside the frame. Taken as a whole, 'I'll Shoot You Ace I Swear To God' is a remarkably unified and sophisticated collection of subtle observation and suggestion. Songs like 'Things We Buried' and 'Blankets' belie the darkness of their subject matter in the most twisted of ways by putting forth tuneful melodies that stick to the brain like peanut butter. Quinn W. Shagbark has returned with a grim and funny warning about a terrifying truth that may lie underfoot, but he's done it with the catchiest, jankiest, oddest pop songs this side of Wounded Knee.