“Spring” and “release” are two words that make San Jacinto Prison Band’s lawyers take notice but in this case it means Onus Records is readying two new CDs for April, San Jacinto Prison Band’s sophomore effort Unfreedom Rock and World Class Thugs long-awaited (8 years in the making) third album Southwestern Dirt Circuit. With overlap of personnel in both bands it made sense to combine forces for a CD double CD release show at Chopper John’s April 26 with special guest Fatigo.
San Jacinto Prison Band
Fear of Suge Knight retribution led them to drop “Death Row” from their name but these melodious felons still perform each song as if their life sentence hangs in the balance. Last year, bandleader Serene Dominic assembled the sextet to be the pit band for his musical Dark Lullaby. The band adopted nine of the show’s songs as their live set which made the balance of their first CD, Sing Dark Lullaby.
“We learned the Act One songs from Dark Lullaby first and later learned and recorded the balance of the show for the cast album, ” Dominic says. “A lot of those Act Two songs turned out to be some of the best things we’ve ever done, so we decided to make them part of a new album instead of a standalone EP. Filling out Unfreedom Rock are new versions of four older Serene Dominic songs and two brand new ones written specifically for this band — “Conjugal Visit,” which demonstrates the band’s flexibility to stray into rock-jazz territory, and “Testosterone,” an odd tribute the disco-era Bee Gees which contains falsetto and false bravado in equal measure.
“Sonically, it’s all over the place, which made me think of old Stones’ US albums like December’s Children, which were slapped together from a lot of sources but in retrospect, hung together much better than some of their intended UK albums,” says Dominic, who also created a music video for the CD’s lead-off track, “2791 (A New Delivery System),” a collage of retro
futuristic imagery and men in stripes trying to find a place in the world of tomorrow. Muses Dominic, “It’s a happy song about the future for a change and I hope the video reflects that.
World Class Thugs
Southwestern Dirt Circuit
Why did this record take so goddamned long? In the time that it would conceive and raise an 8-year-old, World Class Thugs looked after their own collective spawn and spun off into some side projects (Jim Dustan in Psycho Square Dance and San Jacinto Prison, Jim and Jocelyn Fox in RPM Orchestra), all the while woodshedding this collection of tunes about drug fueled years, trazodone men, red eyes and crazy quilts. The long awaited follow-up to their second CD, Curio, sounds very much like the carnival has come to town with some delightful delicacies, a couple of suspect rides and a few sideshow attractions that have gone to seed.
New members to the thug life include Trent Morue (Vinegar Sting, Haunted Cologne) on bass, Andrew Jemsek (Moonlight Magic, San Jacinto Prison Band, Haunted Cologne) on keyboards and accordion and Carter Dukarm (Zany Guys, Psycho Square Dance) on pedal steel.
And Southwestern Dirt Circuit, named after Dustan’s annual birthday jamfest, sounds very good indeed, a melting potpourri of Americana styles and characters who, as Dustan puts it , are “fueled by Arizona oddities and low tales of desert sorrows.”
Click here to stream Southwestern Dirt Circuit.