Latimer – Live From Sour City

4 out of 5

Label: World Domination

Produced by: Aaron Luis Stevenson, Josh Kramer

Hm… something’s changed.  Latimer’s ‘Live From Sour City’ (note: not actually a live album) kicks off with the same intensity that every track of debut LP Title effused, but… something’s changed.

That previous album blared and blazed with dueling guitars, panicked vocals, backbone bass lines, and punky drumming, ebbing and flowing to keep the damned thing on a constant run without overwhelming yon listener’s earholes.  It’s relistenable – and catchy, and memorable – as Hell.  Several people provided production support, including Gang of Fourer (and label World Domination owner) Dave Allen and McCain and Easley, from whose Easley Studios recordy loins groups like Grifters and Jon Spencer had dropped some heavy jams.  LP Title prioritized guitar, and rightfully so, as the fitful duel riffage on the album deserved a highlight.

The spotlight on Sour City has shifted: guitars are way in the background, and drums are front and center.  The kit work is astounding, so that’s not exactly a mistake, but it crafts a different sound and may have guided the compositions down a certain road.  And / or this could all be a consequence of… a missing guitarist.  Album 2 is, for most of its tracks, down to a trio, and frankly, it shows.  The disc is more laid back; less immediate.  On songs where our second guitarist does show up – Bullseye!, Ohio – it’s business as usual, and it’s glorious.  But whereas I never had my doubts about LP Title, Live From Sour City starts to sound thin after a few tracks, or at least, it doesn’t have the same verve as its preceding disc.

To which I now say: give it a chance.  Something changed, but it’s just a shift, and a proper one: instead of trying to maintain the same approach with a single guitar, Latimer adjusted.  I do think there’s slightly less range on this disc as a result, and again, it’s not nearly as “instant classic” sounding, but approached with some distance from LP Title, it’s still an amazing rock disc; amazing performances, stronger vocal work than on the debut, and jesus christ the drummer must just be a giant puddle of sweat after any given song, much less a full performance.  Sure enough, warmed to the style, Live From Sour City takes on its own appeal, meriting just as many relistens as we’d hope for, though further damning us via the lack of Latimer material hereafter.