Alibi V.29 No.26 • June 25-July 1, 2020 

Sonic Reducer

Red Mesa The Path to the Deathless (Desert Records)

Red Mesa The Path to the Deathless
Red Mesa The Path to the Deathless

The slow, deliberate sauce that seeps out of Red Mesa’s new album The Path to the Deathless speaks not only to the desolation of the desert, but to a nebulous, impending problem. Doom, sure, but this is metal served at such a velvety, sluggish pace that drivers listening to this album late at night on the roads of New Mexico might want to set the cruise control to a proper speed, lest they find themselves inadvertently slowing down to keep pace with the music. Of surprising note is the violin on “Swallowed by the Sea” that comes in like piccolo trumpet from an Ennio Morricone composition. Good, bad and ugly: With The Path to the Deathless Red Mesa adds a weighty one to the sunburned collection of albums on the dashboard of the discerning desert drifter.

August James Obsessed (Swamp Yankee Records)

August James Obsessed
August James Obsessed

August James’ Obsessed is the kind of record that makes you ache for a summer road trip with the windows rolled down. James tells stories where, as he describes, he knows “love is a sinking ship.” Lyrically, James packs the songs with extra words like Detective Columbo asking just one more question and taking the story in a direction that you really hadn’t expected. Where you have exceptional and unexpectedly energetic drumming on songs like “Cowboys on the Beach” and “Nate’s Song,” you can be fooled into thinking the songs are not really as heartbreakingly sad as they truly are. On an album where the twang comes from pedal steel, not James’ buttery voice, Obsessed is the kind of country you may not want to live in, but you’ll want to drive through.