Chris Cacavas & Junkyard Love

Pale Blonde Hell

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On his previous two releases, Chris Cacavas showed that he could create marvelous folk-inflected ballads and characterful soft rock songs. He also proved that no matter how good this material was, nobody paid attention but a small cult of fans, most of whom were in Europe. On Pale Blond Hell, Cacavas decided to try something different, turning out a gloriously raucous album of amplified rock in the tradition of Crazy Horse. The elements of twang and Western Americana that lifted his work above the usual were still there, but set to John Thoman's roaring guitar and Billy Price's pounding drums. This is not to say that there's no subtlety here, far from it in fact. The dynamics on this album are astonishingly complex. Listen to "Let You Down," in which Cacavas' soulful vocals and strummed acoustic guitar plays counterpoint to Thoman's distorted six-string howl, a carnival-like organ riff, and guest Joey Burns' cello. Cacavas sings with soul and intensity throughout this album, and though comparisons to Neil Young are inevitable, well, there are worse people to be compared to. Young himself would probably have been proud of tunes like "Smolder" and "Song for the Fan." The reception of Pale Blond Hell in Europe was ecstatic, and Cacavas became a festival headliner on the strength of this album. Alas, it was never released in the United States and the band toured the U.S. only fitfully, so Chris Cacavas & Junkyard Love were stars in Europe and unknowns in their own home towns.

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