Thrift Store Cowboys
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Thrift Store Cowboys

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Texas has always been a prime source for innovative music. From Bob Wills and the Texas Playboy's western swing to Willie and Waylon's ushering in the outlaw movement, Texas has consistently proven itself as a leader in American music.

Often times, however, the music is appreciated far down the line in terms of a bands career. In some cases, even decades later.

That's why the time to go see the Thrift Store Cowboys is right now. Before they're playing to larger less intimate crowds. Before hordes of fans lament to the "good ol' days."

It's not a question of if the Lubbock based quintet will "break through," but when, and, more importantly, just how big the splash they make will be.

After years of playing shows from coast to coast, Thrift Store Cowboys have done nothing more than consistently improve-upon their diversity, musicianship, talent and stage presence.

Thursday's show at the homely All-Good Cafe in Dallas found Thrift Store showcasing the majority of the songs from their new album, "Lay Low While Crawling or Creeping," released nationally in November for download on iTunes.com.

Described by Texas music critic Rex Hobart as "spooky punky tonk desert music," Thrift Store Cowboys reached new heights on their third album released since 2001.

Words are tough to find to describe the subtle intensity of the sonically masterful album. I've contemplated how to accurately depict the sound since a copy of "Lay Low" first fell into my hands this summer.

The haunting fiddle of Amanda Shires and bass heavy low-end Western guitar of Colt Miller interplay with intricately open lyrics and cascading harmonies of Shires and vocalist Daniel Fluitt. Bolstered by the fixed and unyielding rhythms of bassist (and Colt's brother) Clint Miller and tasteful drums by Kris "Tugboat" Killingsworth, Thrift Store creates a completely original organic blend of endless genres of music.

It's a tough task, and words alone don't do the album justice.

The album seamlessly flows, devoid of being a collection of songs; a clear cohesion is evident from the first listen.

Thrift Store's lyrics lean towards the abstract, echoing a painter's ambiguity but retaining their emotional and descriptive intent.

"Most of our lyrics are rather vague combinations of personal experience and history," said Fluitt after playing to the packed Dallas cafe. "We leave lots of room for interpretation."

"Lay Low While Crawling or Creeping" also features Shires stepping into the lead vocal spotlight for two of the songs on the album, a task she handles with the same easy grace she applies to her bow.

Where as the past two Thrift Store Cowboys albums, 2003's "The Great American Desert," and 2001's "Nowhere With You," better represented the live facet of the band, "Lay Low While Crawling or Creeping" features Thrift Store layering their compositions with instruments ranging from Killingsworth glockenspiel on "Go! Go! You Coyotes!," and Colt Miller's accordion making various appearances.

The record was recorded at WaveLab Studios in Tucson, Arizona, the same studio used by bands such as Calexico, Iron and Wine, and Neko Case.

"We really wanted to utilize the studio for this album," said guitarist Colt Miller.

The songs from "Lay Low While Crawling or Creeping" translate cleanly into the live setting, with the same precision and intent as the disc denotes.

The band attacks the crescendos, bounces through the elaborate changes rhythm, and hits every note. The bass of Clint Miller anchors to the note selection of his guitar picking brother and his fancy footwork would send shivers down the spines of the most accomplished dancers.

"We love what we do, and if that comes across on stage and in our music, we're heading down the right path," said Fluitt.

With such a heavy touring schedule and no current plans to let up, there's no excuse for making a trip to see the Thrift Store Cowboys. With enough interest and support the possibility of a show in Tyler could also become a serious possibility.

Until then, like the band is fond of saying, "Anywhere is walking distance if you have the time." - Patriot Talon (by Will McDonald on Nov. 29, 2006)


Discography

Lay Low While Crawling or Creeping (2006)
The Great American Desert (2003)
Nowhere With You (2001)

Photos

Bio

For a band of 20-somethings, the Thrift Store Cowboys are unusually well seasoned. Four of the five core members have been recording and touring together for six years. Hailing from Lubbock, Texas, the've built a national cult following around three studio albums and countless performances from coast to coast at venues ranging from coffee shops to world class theatres.

Their sound borrows from a rich heritage rooted in rock and country. However, the band defies classification as they focus on blazing new trails for their fans. One review of their sophomore release called it "spooky punky-tonk desert music," while another called it a "beautiful rootsy, even surfy sound." Punk and roots. Surf and desert sand. It's all there in what another reviewer calls "a beautifully intoxicating mix."

Their latest release, Lay Low While Crawling or Creeping, embellishes on all flavors. It rocks harder and sways softer than either of their previous albums. Rather than relying on one or two principal songwriters to craft the sound, the band draws from the diverse influences of all five members, supported by the multi-instrumental and sound engineering talents of WaveLab Studios in Tucson, Arizona.

In 2006, the band debuted on the CMJ radio charts, which might mark the beginning of their "overnight success." The band is hopeful, but not in any particular hurry. For now, they're free to go their own pace, which promises to be a steady one in 2007 as they aim to perform in most major markets in the United States and Canada.