Dixie Witch, Into the Sun (2001)
I don’t think Texas heavy rock is what it is today without the groundwork that Austin’s Dixie Witch laid. I remember seeing them at Small Stone showcases at SXSW in the mid-’00s, and it was so clear whose town it was. When drummer/vocalist Trinidad Leal walked into Room 710, he owned the place. Nothing’s universal, of course, and Texas is huge, but do you get Mothership or Wo Fat without Dixie Witch paving the way? I don’t know. The trio of Leal, guitarist Clayton Mills and bassist Curt “CC” Christenson made their debut on John Perez of Solitude Aeturnus‘ vastly underrated Brainticket Records imprint, and would go on to sign to the aforementioned Small Stone by the time the follow-up, One Bird, Two Stones, arrived in 2003, reissuing Into the Sun that same year. Their songs of perservering through hard times and being on the road, blistering solos, thick grooves and Southern-without-caricature brand of rock would make them one of the quintessential Small Stone bands of their generation, kicking ass in the pre-social media age on songs that would become staples like the extended megagroover “Freewheel Rollin’,” “Into the Sun” itself and “Throwin’ Shapes.”
Like the best of their contemporaries, Dixie Witch recalled classic heavy rock and roll without sounding anything other than modern. A full 15 years later, if you sent me Into the Sun to review, I’d in no way call it dated. I’d call it awesome, from the title-track at the outset down to the cover of Joe Walsh‘s “The Bomber,” which closes. The soul and the force they put into these tracks — doubly impressive on a debut — would serve as a defining moment for everything they did after, whether it was One Bird, Two Stones, 2006’s Smoke and Mirrors or their 2011 last-LP-to-date (one never knows), Let it Roll (review here), and “Thunderfoot”‘s whiskey-drinking ways, trippy solo and fervent crash makes a great model to follow. That’s not to say the band didn’t grow during their tenure — Smoke and Mirrors was expansive and Let it Roll showed just how tightly honed their songwriting was, even though Mills had left the band — just that Into the Sun set the tone that Dixie Witch would build on as they moved through the decade that followed.
They were underrated at the time, but as a new generation of heavy rockers have come up in the last five or six years, Dixie Witch have been off the touring circuit. Guitarist Joshua “JT” Todd Smith, who replaced Mills for Let it Roll, seems to have relinquished his position to its former holder, and through 2015 and up to this March, Dixie Witch have done sparse live shows. Seems like an act ripe for a triumphant comeback, but of course Leal is touring and playing with Honky now as well, so what if anything might be in the cards for Dixie Witch is anyone’s best guess. But man, they were incredible on stage, and Into the Sun continues to hold up, as I expect it will into perpetuity.
Hope you enjoy.
The Patient Mrs. has been in London since last Sunday. She took a group of some of her students over on a study tour — my wife is a college professor — and will return next Wednesday. It probably would’ve been worse being home alone this week if I hadn’t spent so much time in traffic. 90 minutes to work every morning, except yesterday when it was 100, and at least another hour and a half to get home afterwards. Punishing. By the time I’ve gotten home, I’ve been too exhausted to be lonely. And well, being at work is what it is anyway. It’s not like that’s time otherwise spent hanging out. Not to say I don’t miss her, because I do very much. Fortunately, this trip is nowhere near as long as when she went to Greece for a month two years ago.
But yeah, just kind of a slog to get through the days this week. I knew I was tired when that Radio Moscow giveaway went up yesterday with the wrong venue address. I corrected it, and those things happen, but for me it’s usually a sign I’m on my ass. Get exhausted, get sloppy. I don’t think I’m the only one in the universe.
Good news is I’ve got a friend coming north to chill this weekend and I’ve got a day or two to get some errands done — air conditioners need to go in windows, dog food needs purchasing, some laundry, etc. — and the weather isn’t supposed to be shit here in the Commonwealth, so I should be vaguely restored by the time Monday comes back around and the bullshit parade begins anew. To offset that, I’ve got a pretty busy week in store.
Monday, I might have a Black Moon Circle track premiere from their new EP? Not sure yet, but I’m trying to work it out. Also a King Buffalo track stream. Tuesday a full stream of the new Farflung. Also going to try to fit in reviews for Electric Citizen, Earthless/Harsh Toke and Hijo de la Tormenta, and there’s already a ton of news I’m behind on and a couple new videos to get up as well, so yeah, I expect a barrage. Anyone notice yesterday was seven posts? Today wound up being seven too. Wednesday was six. Not complaining, it’s just a lot to keep up with.
Sometimes as a result a venue that’s in Long Beach gets mixed up with the same venue in North Hollywood. It happens. Pretty sure no one notices but me anyway. Oh, and Albatross Overdrive. They noticed.
I hope you have a great and safe weekend. I’m going to try to do the same and not throw out my back dealing with that AC. Please check out the forum and the radio stream.