The last few weeks of every year are always great for catching up with records you missed out on over the previous 12 months. This December has been no different, though admittedly it’s been a little thinner this year compared to others. That’s likely due to the fact that I was pretty good at zeroing in on exactly what I wanted to hear this year – not a lot slipped through the cracks. Two records that did manage to go by unnoticed were John Wesley Coleman III’s The Last Donkey Show and The Golden Boys’ Dirty Fingernails. I’ve been digging both tremendously over the past few days, and both likely would have done well on my “Albums 2012” list had I heard them a few months or even weeks ago.
Though connected by Coleman (in addition to his solo work, he’s a member of Golden Boys), these two records offer slight differences from one another to make them interesting for their individual merits. His solo joint Last Donkey Show is the more sonically diverse; it’s full of horns, organ, and pedal steel guitar, giving these garage/folk songs a bit of a soul feel. The songs are uniformly excellent – Coleman’s lyrics are witty throughout and he pulls off the soulful slowburners like “The Howling” with aplomb. Nightmare/pop raver “She’s Like Dracula” is an early fave. Dirty Fingernails is the more straightforward garage rock record of the two, but even still the keys give the songs some added sonic weight. It’s also just a really cool record straight thru with tight, well-written songs that only get better with repeat listens (except for the awful “Daddy’s Horsewife” – the one and only dud on either record. Thankfully it’s only a minute long). If you dug bands I recommended this year like Spider Bags, King Khan & The Shrines, or The Tough Shits then both of these records are absolutely must haves. Dirty Fingernails was released on 12xU, Last Donkey Show by Goner.
California (from Dirty Fingernails)
Older Than You (from Dirty Fingernails)
She’s Like Dracula (from The Last Donkey Show)
Don’t Waste My Time (from The Last Donkey Show)