The Leaving Trains

Smoke Follows Beauty

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17 years on, and dozens of lineups later, Falling James Moreland soldiers on with the Leaving Trains' eighth LP. If not up there with 1995's Drowned and Dragged EP -- there's nothing as hot as "She'll Be Crushed," though "Go On Strike" is close -- Smoke Follows Beauty continues the group's spontaneous, garagy angry-punk that characterized the period after their 1980-1986 (Hofer brothers era) golden age, Fuck and Transportational D. Vices. A number of cuts jump out, not only for the hopped-up attitude, but for the lyrical topics, and the "in your face" way Moreland sings them. See "Legalize Me," a meditation on cops and laws' tolerance for deviant behavior ("Prison building is the only growth industry"), the previously released (by band alter-ego Sluts for Hire) "Big Star" (an anti-groupie rant), "Bash in Your Face," on the true favorite sport of easily-offended rednecks in sports bars (especially if you dress in drag, like Moreland does nowadays), and "Marijuana." The lyrics come fast and hard even when the group simmers slow, such as "Now I'm Mad," a similar subject to Billy Bragg's new "From Red to Blue," as Moreland spits, "You used to be a rebel/Or maybe it was just the clothes/You used to hate the rich/But I guess that was just a pose/Protest is so easy." Long may the trains yet leave (o'er the land of the insecure and the home of the dry heave).

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