Where art Thou, Mr. Plow?

The shot, the city, the van, the instruments. This picture in no way captures the personality of the band. It should be a shot of one of the dudes mowing the lawn, wiping sweat from his brow while the other three sit in Adirondack chairs sipping from jugs of Carlo Rossi sangria laughing. That's Mr. Plow. Not sure who shot this.Not to be confused with the comedic singer-songwriter of the same name, the Mr. Plow I’m thinking of hailed from Houston, Texas, released three albums and seemingly finished their run before ever getting signed or getting their due. Like so many bands over the better part of this decade, I first came across them online at the All That is Heavy store from StonerRock.com, browsing the recent arrivals.

At the time it was Mr. Plow‘s second album, Cock Fights and Pony Racin’. A record that showed love for The Big Lebowski (the chorus of “The Dude” contains the line, “Hey man, there’s a How could you not love this band?beverage here”), Carlo Rossi (“Ode to Carlo” — I’m not a fan but that’s hilarious anyway), Seinfeld (see “Festivus,” after the jump) and Lord of the Rings (closer “From the Mouth of Gandalf” is a seven part homage to The Fellowship); it practically commanded me to make the purchase.

It also made a strong argument in favor of picking up 2000 debut, Head On, which I did.

If memory serves — which it often doesn’t — that was late 2003 or early 2004. Unfortunately I wouldn’t find out about final album Asteroid 25399 until about a year after it came out. Not much of a hype machine for those unsigned bands.

Head On and Cock Fights and Pony Racin’ were ideal summertime listening. They contained lighthearted vibes, rocking riffs and either top notch references (“Travis Bickle” shows up on the debut, not to be forgotten) or the kind of everyman down to earth charm lacking in a lot of the underground heavy, as on Cock Fights cut, “The Only Reason You Got in Front of Me was Because I Let You.” I enjoyed them for what they were and then some, but it wasn’t until I got Asteroid 25399 that I really understood the potential Mr. Plow had always had.

God I miss Kurt Vonnegut.An eight track (as opposed to an 8-track) tribute to author Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. made even more significant by the timing of its release in the year of his death, 2007, Asteroid 25399 is a record that, played next to its predecessors, sounds like a completely different band. Not only are songs like “Dead Eye Dick” and “Proteus” memorable and well-written from a lyrical, musical and structural standpoint, but they demonstrate a level of maturity that, frankly, I didn’t ever expect to hear from Mr. Plow. Their reverence for their subject matter was obvious, even down to the detail of having a Vonnegut painting as the cover of the CD.

Intricately conceived enough to produce the sweetly-toned, bass-led instrumental “Ice Nine,” it was an album made all the more exciting by the depth of its components, but, like everything else Mr. Plow did, it was short and when it was over, there was no fanfare. The band released it, enjoyed the moderate reception occasionally given to good local acts, and as yet, have faded without concrete mention of whether or not they’re even broken up, “on hiatus,” or whatever other inactive status terminology they might want to use.

They’re one of those bands who, if I ever got that label going that I keep talking (mostly to myself) about, I’d reissue all three of their albums as soon as humanly possible, just in hopes of getting the word out about them to one or two more people. Quality rock like that which they proffered on Head On, Cock Fights and Pony Racin’ and especially Asteroid 25399 is a rare and special thing, and to see it go unheralded for so long is a shame. In this age of constant reunions, it doesn’t seem to much to ask: can’t a brother get a little Mr. Plow?

Mr. Plow on MySpace

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4 Responses to “Where art Thou, Mr. Plow?”

  1. Racer says:

    Great band. I’m still good friends with the guitarist, Jeremy Stone. One of the band members now is in Sanctus Bellum, a great doom band.

  2. Grooverock says:

    Speaking of which Mr. Plow will play The El Birthday Metal Fest III on 12/21 at Fitzgerald’s in Houston, TX. They’ll feature Sanctus Bellum drummer Cory Cousins behind the kit in addition to the remaining 3/4 of the original lineup.

  3. Bag says:

    Heard some of their tunes via Pandora several years ago, got in touch with them via Facebook and they were kind enough to send me copies of all three of their albums, and the copy of asteroid was signed by the band! Fucking awesome, still listen regularly. Thanks for highlighting such a great act.

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