Wednesday, September 28, 2011

#27: Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers - Sonoran Hope and Madness

Release Year: 2001

The Refreshments were one of the most popular bands in Arizona in the mid-1990s.  They had hit songs on the radio and on television series.  After their 1997 record The Bottle and Fresh Horses, however, the band split, and singer/songwriter Roger Clyne and drummer P.H. Naffah regrouped under the moniker "Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers."  This band, while similar in some respects to The Refreshments, had a more Americana feel.

Their sophomore album, Sonoran Hope and Madness, is the quintessential Arizona record.  It marries Clyne's time spent on his uncle's ranch in Tucson with his suburban Tempe upbringing, and the result is a record that captures the Zeitgeist in turn-of-the-millenium Arizona.  Here we have a city rapidly growing into a metropolis, yet struggling to somehow retain its rural attitude.

That's the theme of this album, and that's why I like it.  Here we have Clyne at his songwriting pinnacle, and his storytelling was as good as ever.  The themes are distinctly Southwest: songs about trailer parks, murder in Mexican villages, diversity and tolerance, and the transition from farmlands and ranches to stucco and highways.  Even the interlude, an instrumental "Home on the Range," evokes a yearning for open spaces.

To perfect the motif, the album is bookended by something else that is a critical aspect of Arizona youth: bottle rockets.

RCPM would gradually get less creative and less introspective after this album, but this one might go down in history as Clyne's magnum opus.

Standout tracks:
  • Buffalo
  • Better Beautiful Than Perfect
  • Colorblind Blues
  • Mile High and Risin' 

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