CD Reviews

COMANCHE MOON: Derailed

Comanche Moon has a new CD called Derailed. The working band of Paul Kamanski, he is known to most of the local roots rock community for his past associations with such patron saints as the Beat Farmers, Country Dick Montana, and Joey Harris; he wrote several of the songs that are considered classics by the classic cowpunk Beat Farmers, including “Bigger Stones,” “Hollywood Hills,” and “California Kid.” Those were a while back, and Kamanski has kept active with Comanche Moon on four previous CD releases; he also plays frequently with his wife Caren and Harris.

The band is basically Kamanski’s guitar and vocal, Caren Campbell-Kamanski’s backing vocals, and a rhythm section of Larry Dent and Aaron Dennis; the sound is rough and ready, recalling extemporaneous studio bands like the Grateful Dead. All ten tunes are by Kamanski and his tunecraft is reflected in the music: often a sort of travelogue blended with some nostalgic look backs by a man hitting his 60s—his lyrics are in the artwork, a bonus.

“Chelsea” starts off and lets the listener know that Kamanski means business. A mid-tempo rocker, it relates experiences of junkies in New York, where “the customers pay cash for the corners” in the club; his stark, matter-of-fact approach to addiction’s ravages was heard before on the Beat Farmers’ “Death Train.” On “Insecurity” the message is more personal, a resolve to make a new start with a woman who needs a man who is real, blowing past the insincere and unimportant to take a steady path together going forward. “Tennessee Hit” is a catchy, harmonized verse worked into a hypnotic guitar arrangement-one of several here- that breaks up the set and pleases the ear.

On “Wave Goodbye” the overly crowded arrangement works against the song. A farewell song with a carefree jumble of competing voices in search of harmonies, and several meandering guitars as if at the same wake, it drags and never quite establishes itself. Kamanski does much better on “Dinosaur Cry” as he succeeds in one of his minor epics, managing in 4-1/2 minutes to celebrate the trains in the Great Basin and the time they ruled our transportation world, “Out of Ruby Red Canyon into history books, the Rio Grande Railway takes one last look.” This is the highlight of the album. He recalls a “silver mustang on a golden track” in sharp harmonies, bemoaning space shuttles. “5 Miles to San Antone” is unusual, slow paced, and featuring elaborate, Hendrix-flavored guitar decoration over a repeated vocal mantra; casting a mellow spell.

Kamanski’s “Just Happy Today” is a stab at down-home country that clicks, with rough-hewn vocals not unlike the Band’s album tracks, the sad lament of a wronged lover on the eve of his enlistment in the army. “And Guitar” wraps the set, yet another of

Kamanski’s musical ideas that lays down a vocal chorus, guitar accompaniment, and allows it to float on the ether.

Derailed offers listeners interesting lyrics and a potpourri of musical approaches.

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