Like a backwoods, Pentecostal preacher on a bender, Denver's Slim Cessna's Auto Club careen around their third release with a whiskey bottle in one fist and a Bible in the other. Songs like "Jesus Christ," "Water into Wine," and "Unto the Day" seem sober enough on first glance, but in the hands of this motley crew, looks are deceiving. Mixing generous helpings of Spaghetti Western-style tremeloed guitar, C&W, hillbilly, bluegrass and even Klezmer into their gospelized rock 'n' roll, Slim and his band walk with Jesus on one side and the devil on the other, seemingly unsure of whom they're most comfortable with. With his hyperactive, trembling Stan Ridgway vocals and an arsenal of acoustic instruments including banjo, harmonium, pedal steel, auto harp, fiddle and accordion at his disposal, Cessna howls, pants and -- most stunningly --yodels (especially in the appropriately titled "Goddamn Blue Yodel #7") his odes of sin and salvation as if hellhounds are nipping at his trail. Waltz-time dirges alternate with double-time barn-burners like "Last Song About Satan," a sort of "Devil Went Down to Georgia" story which -- with lyrics like "Lucifer you piece of shit, I should kick your ass right where you sit," -- won't be hitting number one in the Bible Belt regardless of any fire and brimstone intentions.
Not that these wild fellas will be thumping their Good Books in a church near you. Even when they sound sincere, there's a subtle yet incisive, tongue-in-cheek attitude here that throws questions of their seriousness in the air and is only aided by band members who cloak themselves in names like Danny Pants and Dwight Pentacost. The spiritual band for people who hate spiritual bands, Slim Cessna's Auto Club drives home their Christian sermons on a crooked road filled with devilish potholes.
-- Hal Horowitz
Slim Cessna's Auto Club plays the Cotton Club on Thurs., Sept. 28.