Random Wax: Mike Smith - Limbeck 'Hi, Everything's Great'

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January 8th, 2016 by bsradmin

We like to listen to vinyl on Fridays here at BSHQ. Every Friday we have a Bloodshot crew member randomly select a record from his/her personal collection and bring it to the office. The person has to explain why the album is on his/her shelves, and then we listen to it. We call this Random Wax.

Today's contestant is Bloodshot marketing maverick Mike Smith! He randomly selected Limbeck's Hi, Everything's Great from 2003. Here's his explanation on why it's in his collection:

"I credit now-defunct Southern California band Limbeck as my gateway drug to country music. This is a 2015 reissue of their 2003 debut album Hi, Everything's Great. My musical upbringing mostly consisted of punk and new wave music, and for much of my youth, I hated country. Music with any "twang" whatsoever got the instant kibosh from me. I didn't understand the music, and I didn't understand what it stood for. And I wasn't interested in finding out. I largely believe that was because my reference points were overproduced '90s drivel, which I heard on the radio and via family members - Brooks & Dunn, Travis Tritt, Diamond Rio, other names that escape me. I didn't know that punk rock and "real" country had common roots, common themes, and could be enjoyed together.

Enter: Limbeck.

I believe I first heard them on a punk compilation CD, but I'm not sure which one, or which song. (They ran around more in the punk rock touring circles, rather than the "Americana" or...ehem..."alt-country" scenes, which is why many fans of the latter genres have never heard of Limbeck. I like to enlighten them.) I then found Limbeck's second album Let Me Come Home (which is considerably more country-influenced than this one) at an FYE at the mall. There was something about the punk rock suburban frustration in the lyrics (alongside whimsical road stories), the Tom Petty-reminiscent singing, and the guitar tones...hot damn those guitar tones! I dove in further, and even though I was hearing mandolin, banjo, steel guitar, and shuffle drums, I was hooked.

After obsessive listening, I started to pick out the things I liked about Limbeck's music and seeking out other bands who were cut from a similar cloth...leading me to bands like Old 97's, Whiskeytown, Wilco, and even The Replacements. Then the rabbit hole got even deeper, and my ears figured out the links to everything from Johnny Cash to Dwight Yoakam to Gram Parsons to Buck Owens. 

Limbeck "broke up" in, I think, 2008, after three front-to-back outstanding albums. I was able to see them once, in 2007 at The Trocadero in Philadelphia during spring break my freshman year of college. Once I caught wind that they'd disbanded, I never thought I'd have much of a connection to them aside from the music they'd recorded. They released a 7" or two since, but then fate showed it's opportunistic face in 2014 when we were putting together the Bloodshot 20th anniversary album, which featured non-Bloodshot artists covering songs from the Bloodshot catalog. I sent an email to their drummer Jonny Phillip (whose email I got from a friend of a friend) and proposed the idea of them covering a song by Old 97's, who I knew was a big influence on Limbeck. My fanboy nerd heart exploded when they agreed and reunited to cover 97's b-side "Sound of Running." Finding out one of my favorite bands of all time were big enough fans of the label I worked for was a real "singularity" moment. That's a story I'll always tell. And I'll tell ya, they're swell guys. We keep in touch. 

Today nobody seemed to believe that this album was picked randomly, since everyone here in the office knows my affinity for this band, but I swear I had my girlfriend close her eyes and randomly select a record from the out-of-order LP shelf in our apartment. It worked out quite well, because in reality, if it weren't for Limbeck inadvertently introducing me to roots music with a punk rock backbone, there's no way I'd be working here at Bloodshot today."

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