Record review: Wagons – Acid Rain and Sugar Cane (2014, LP)

wagons acid rain and sugar cane

It’s been three years since Wagon’s last album, Rumble, Shake and Tumble, but during what seems at first glance like an extended holiday, Wagons’ main man Henry Wagons became a father and made a solo album comprised entirely of duets.

Recorded in his Mornington Peninsula studio with a horde of vintage equipment and Mick Harvey on production and additional musical duties throughout, this 11-song collection – the band’s sixth – has everything long-term fans will expect to hear, and a few surprises to keep things more than interesting.

Ragged Americana, whisky-soaked lyrics and tales of heartbreak from the Victorian coast to the saloons of Nashville are the order of the day, carried off with the flamboyant gusto and cheeky humour that Wagons has earned a reputation for on the live circuit. Heart-wrenchers ‘Beer Barrel Bar’ and ‘Never Going To Leave’ sit smoothly next to galloping sex-and-booze anthems ‘Search The Streets’ and ‘Chase The Eclipse’, and Brisbane’s entertainment precinct is summed up perfectly on the brilliantly loose ‘Fortitude Valley’ with a slight twist on a classic line – ‘women to the left of me, jokers to the right’.

Recording took place with all six band members in the same room à la Bob Dylan and The Band’s The Basement Tapes, resulting in a live feel that makes sure there’s not a bad track or stale moment at any point. This is an album that is simply a pleasure to listen to, from start to finish.

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