Finally, after a three-year wait, Slim Cessna's Auto Club delivered Cipher, their 4th full-length on Alternative Tentacles. Slim, Munly, and the boys present traditional American music like country & western and gospel straight up, without contorting it to suit cow punk or alterna/indie
country sensibilities. With their earnest approach and raucous live shows that feel more like religious revivals of a bygone era, Slim Cessna's Auto Club has widened their reach considerably beyond their hometown of Denver, Colorado, making devotees out of punks, All Songs Considered types, Americana purists, and pretty much anyone with a soul.
Cipher features sixteen tracks, strung together loosely by a recurring refrain. As always, Slim Cessna's Auto Club lays out an intricate arrangement of handmade stringed instruments (guitar, double bass, banjo, mandolin, etc.) with flawless musicianship, as well as the curious push-and-pull vocals by co-frontmen Slim Cessna and Munly.
The songs have a darker, heavier tone compared to their previous efforts-though quite a few still maintain the rollicking country gospel vibe that compel some spectators to form mosh pits at their shows. To solicit audience participation of a different sort, as its title suggests, Cipher includes coded messages in its artwork!
"This band formed in 1993 as a country group in Denver and now they are noisy, weird, and unclassifiable... This is my favorite record by the group! They put on one of the best live performances in the USA." - Maximumrocknroll, from a Top 10 of 2008 list
"Last we heard from Slim Cessna and those bandits that make up the Auto Club was their release from 2000, Always Say Please and Thank You. Back then they had the gothic country vibe nailed down and pretty much owned the revival scene. On Cipher, Jesus isn't smoking Viceroys any more; he's drinking Kool-Aid and wearing a Shriner's fez.
Available as a gatefold double LP, this record has a real QueenNight at the Opera feel; it's sprawling and massive in sound and subject matter. 'Americadio' sounds like a mash-up of the Land of Oz's Midnight Oil and those seedy Birthday Party cats while 'All About the Bullfrog in 3 Verses' comes across like the Avett Brothers covering Gwar.
This record is a must for the anti-folksters who dig the circus and the pulpit and are ready to testify that all is not well in Kansas, Texas, or New York City; it is tent rock of the highest order and if you can't even muster up the energy to pay full respect and genuflect, well, then may God help you."
"An Introduction To The Power Of Braces (Arms)" (1:20)
"This Land Is Our Land Redux" (4:25)
"All About the Bullfrog in Three Verses" (3:44)
"An Introduction To The Power Of Braces (Legs)" (1:27)