It’s a bad idea to review an MV & EE record as late as I am, cause chances are by now they’ve released a few thousand home-recorded CDRs, compiled 7 years’ worth of live bootlegs or simply found another cosmos to reside in and invited 40 new folks with strange monikers to join the fun. Matt Valentine and Erika Elder are always shifting in sound and song, with their music spanning the realms of half-hour harmonica and guitar vamps to short, sweet and highly distorted travelers’ rock (and hitting all the pit stops in between, underneath and inside those extremes.) This record echoes their Ecstatic Peace! trilogy, in that it’s much more accessible and groovin’ than the stuff you’ll find on Child of Microtones or Heroine Celestial Agriculture (MV & EE’s respective home-spun labels.) Tracks like “Workingman’s Smile,” “Sweet Sure Gone,” and “Common Ground” are snapshots of their trademark, über-easygoing porch-folk vibes, with the latter sounding dangerously (read: awesomely) similar to late 70s-era Dead jams. “Too Far To See” and “Porchlights” also tread easily into electric/fuzzed-out waters, with MV’s guitar lines making barely any damn sense but sounding beautiful all the same. Despite clocking in at just under 7 minutes, “Wasteland” is probably the hit of the hits here, as it combines all the countryside-frolicking and upper-stratospheric electric meandering into one track that is, by MV & EE standards, catchy as hell.
Hurray for the Riff Raff, a Crescent City outfit, churns out consistently beautiful and often heartbreaking folk music. Alynda Lee Segarra’s vocal stylings are perfectly suited to delivering songs about loss, about grief, about rambling, and about staying put. Yosi Perlstein provides some damn fine fiddling, but the tracks that stand out most are the sparsest and most haunting like “ramblin’ girl” and “something’s wrong”. The album’s opener is a rowdy and exuberant take on an old folk tune that has great energy. Ditto for “Lake of Fire”. Give this a chance!