Pop & Rock

Underground Hero


The first time I heard Alejandro Escovedo was on a friend's mix CD. The song was a cover of the Gun Club's "Sex Beat," which Escovedo slowed to a dangerous tempo, giving it an unhurried, sinister feel. Escovedo's latest album, Big Station (Fantasy) retains that touch of danger on many of the tracks, illustrating that Escovedo still possesses the raw emotion and poetic darkness that underlies much of his work.

For example, "Sally Was A Cop" paints a portrait of near-apocalyptic despair peopled with unsavory characters ("crooked politicos" and "mercenary lovers"), but the swelling guitars and background vocals impart a sense of optimism in the chaos. Similarly, "The Bottom Of The World" is full of bleak imagery and merciless self-examination, although Escovedo manages to infuse the song with an upbeat rock sound that lines the perimeter of the tune with hope. "Headstrong Crazy Fools" depicts the destructive habits of artists and fringe dwellers, among which Escovedo counts himself in keeping with his penchant for gritty confessionals.

Perhaps it's because of Escovedo's willingness to explore darker themes that he still flies mostly under the radar of mainstream notice, although among his fellow artists he's known as something of a musician's musician, garnering heavy rotation on Little Steven's Underground Garage and being asked to play on numerous tribute albums.

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