Generally, in defiance of the way the proverb worksfor books, you can judge an album by its cover.Airbrushed zombies on Harley Davidsons = heavy metal.Minimalist futuristic neon lines and dots = genuine orrevival ’80s electronics. Hippies in floppy hats over asoft focus desert landscape = throwback ’70s folk.
Golden Animals are the latter. Unreconstructed late’60s/early ’70s bluesy folk, stripped of all pretensionstowards folktronica, nu folk or the freakish edgeDevendra Banhart likes to sharpen, they mightas well have fallen through a timewarp from thirty oddyears ago. Or else they’re Jack White’s folkishcousins, separated at birth and forced to make musicwithout raising their voices.
All of this is either superbly excellent or acomplete waste of time, depending on which side of theunreconstructed folk-blues fence you sit on.Baltimore-born Tommy Eisner and his Swedishcounterpart Linda Beecroft certainly aren’t pushingany envelopes but what they do, they do very, verywell.
Free Your Mind And Win A Pony is an old-fashionedalbum in all senses of the word. Both the songs andthe instrumentation come out of a memory of the 1920sthat predates rock’n'roll so much that it’s a miracleany recordings of it exist at all. Their production issimilarly stripped down and bare, as raw and basic assomething you might find filling out a legends of theblues compilation picked up for �2.99 in a remainderedbook shop.
In fact, should tracks such as Try On Me and I WantYou To Come find themselves sent back in time now,disguised on a fragile old 78 and directed towards ayoung Mick Jagger or John Lennon, theycould easily find themselves plundered without creditor hawked around Hamburg clubs until their fingersbled.
In other words, whether you want to take any noticeor not of back stories about mysterious fortunetellers predicting the formation of the band,recording sessions in the middle of the Californiadesert and lone freight trains trundling by in thedistance, Golden Animals do a remarkably impressivejob of conjuring up just the kind of image they setout to do: floppy hatted, Afghan-coated drop outssingin’ blue-eyed Blues as the acid gradually seepsout of their veins and into the foothills of the mesa.Why they’re doing this in 2008 is anyone’s guess, buton the other hand if the musical genre ain’t broke,there really ain’t no point in fixing it.