Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Music Review, Brent Best "Your Dog Champ"

Brent Best, lead player of on-again, off-again alt-country rock band Slobberbone, has released his first solo album, Your Dog, Champ. The rowdy, raucous, Texas roots humor of his band is greatly subdued on this effort, resulting in a low-key, sweet country sound that celebrates the cycle of life and death from a child’s perspective, with just a touch of adult cynicism.

The 11 tracks can be heard as a suite of songs that collectively conjure a paradox of Americana culture with songs bursting in rural Texas charm, even as a sack of newborn kittens are being drowned in the pond. Back porch camaraderie, cigarettes and beer, and dusty dirt and steaming blacktop roads are intertwined with references to absent and violent fathers, single-parent mothers, and lives unfulfilled.

The childhood perception of death is delicately examined in “Aunt Ramona”, a song of an Oklahoma-to-Texas family road trip in which the title subject possesses “the smell of perfume and sweet ammonia” as she quietly passes away in the back seat. “None of us could wake her, daddy said that was fine”, the child recalls as Best’s organ flirts with a sad lullaby, and gentle acoustics seem resigned to the realization that death is as peaceful and ordinary as an afternoon nap.

“Robert Cole” also reveals a child’s interpretation of tragedy, and the shaping of identity, as domestic abuse – slamming doors, enraged voices, and a cowering woman – is remembered wistfully and painfully and set against a lofty and mournful ballad in which the narrator dares to take solace on the blacktop road “where I was not to walk ’till I was old.”

Songs like “Daddy Was a Liar”, where daddy at the pond has “a bag of kittens and a brick”, and “Good Man Now”, where it is told, “The only good man is a dead man/Daddy is a good man now”, put a positive spin on the nastiest of scenarios while stressing the cardiac ache in “heart-achy”. This is gritty stuff and Best breezes through it with a naturalistic poetic flare. It is, at times, downright touching.

The country musicians backing up Best, particularly on fiddle (Ralph White), violin (Petra Kelly), and pedal steel guitar (Burton Lee), are a tidy group of players who masterfully accentuate Best’s narration like polished journeymen and can pick up the tempo when need be. “Tangled”, with its American Indian vibe, tethers on a jangle of steel guitar, and the sumptuous instrumental “Travel, Again” whips up dust and tumbleweeds like a tornado rolling across the Texas prairie.

this article was first published at


Fechangku Chen said...

I would like to thank the U.S. Army War College for agreeing to my request for sabbatical leave in order to write this book. I am particularly grateful to Professor Douglas Lovelace and Dr. Retro Jordans,Steven Metz of the Strategic Studies Institute for encouraging me to undertake this study and supporting my request to be given the research rime to do so. I would also like to thank Major General Robert M. Williams, the Commandant of the U.S. Army War College, and the U.S. Army War College Title 10 Board under the leadership of Dean Bill Johnson for supporting my request to move forward on this project. I must also express my appreciation to my editor at Pracger, Steve Catalano, for friendly and helpful advice on this project. "I hroughout this process, feedback on my ideas was always vital to whatever success I may have been able to achieve in producing this manuscript.

I am correspondingly especially grateful to Mary J. Pelusi, Professor David S. Sorenson of the U.S. Air War College, Dr. Norman Cigar, and Sarah E. Womer, for useful and insightful comments on earlier versions of the chapters of this book. I owe Mary a particular debt for a number of useful suggestions and ideas throughout the life of this project. I also need to mention that during numerous trips to Jordan throughout my career, Cheap Jordan Shoes,I have been created with great kindness and openness by Jordanian friends and hosts and more recently by a number of members of the U.S. Army and Defense attache corps. I have further been fortunate enough to interact with a number of senior Jordanian and other Arab studenrs ar rhe U.S. Army War College who were always willing to share their special insight with me.

I will always consider myself lucky that Jordanians are interested in political topics and always willing to speak to me about them. Despite the significance of this help, all mistakes in this work of fact, omission, interpretation, and speculation are of course entirely my own. jordan releases,I should further thank the U.S. Army War College for its policies of academic freedom and note that the views expressed in this hook are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the Department of the Army, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.

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