When an artist knowingly makes music that isn’t for everyone, an honest listener can at least admire their commitment to the path. Javi Garcia gleefully, savagely takes it one step further and not only leads you down the road less traveled, he threatens to burn the bridge back to where you started. Audacity comes naturally and fairly unforced to Garcia, who turned a lot of heads with his 2010 debut (a double album called A Southern Horror, no less), which was bold and often gripping but in retrospect was only setting the table for his pretty damn brilliant follow-up. On The Great Controversy, Garcia stakes a territory somewhere between vintage Rolling Stones (including the subtle shades of country music), black-hearted Misfits shout-alongs, and Americana iconoclasts like his sometime running buddies Ray Wylie Hubbard and Mike McClure. To hear him take on a first-person narrative of Satan himself as a swaggering smart-ass is to have a good chuckle tinged with fear (“I’m the seven-year itch/A year after you’re hitched/I’m the thorns on the stick/When you got hit with a switch,” brags the title track); to hear him verbally smack down both a crank-addicted prostitute and her (his?) disapproving blue-collar dad on “The Sound” is both stirringly direct and hauntingly complex. Nailing it on boozy reveries (“Fort Worthless”) and dirty boogies (“Josephine”) without a bum track in the bunch, Garcia might be on the undercard of Texas music at the moment, but dammit … he’s swinging like a heavyweight.
Javi Garcia – The Great Controversy
I’ll admit two things going in to this review: First, I’ve been a huge fan of Madly In Anger/A Southern Horror since they first came out & was expecting nothing less than a stellar follow up effort. Second, this was one of the more difficult reviews I’ve had to write partly because of the first.
The album sets a searingly dark tone from the opener and never let’s off the throttle. I’m familiar with Javi’s fondness for The Rolling Stones & tried to set that aside at first listen. By the time I got halfway through the pounding “Stick To The Facts” I’d completely forgotten about it. This whole record has Sticky Fingers-era Stones all over it, to the point that if it weren’t for Javi’s scowling & brooding vocals on top of the track it wouldn’t surprise you to learn that this was a recently unearthed treasure trove of songs from 45 years ago just now released to the public.
None of that is meant to diminish from the greatness of this work. It can stand side by side with any great work. This is simply meant to acknowledge that, whether he meant for it to or not, Javi’s first great musical love can be heard and felt all through this record.
The songs are, as a whole, every bit as dark as the first record. The story telling has grown more distinct than before. Each song tells a chapter of the story, but unlike before they won’t let you linger some favorite spot along the way. There is no spot to catch your breath.
I went through about 6 different attempts to go at this on a track by track basis but in the end I couldn’t make a single track more important than another and scrapped the format. I tried to come up with a way to not say, “hey, I think this could be the Great Lost Stones Record” but I really couldn’t and still be honest in my reaction.
So basically I took away three things from this record:
1) This is the rarest type of album. It requires owning in its entirety, else you miss a large chunk of the story. Yes some tracks (Nightfall in particular) seem more radio friendly than others but that’s not the point of any track.
2) Passion still matters for a lot in anything. Passion in the creative process produces great result. This album has the kind of passion to it that tells you it was never an option. It HAD to be made.
3) You could drop songs from this album into a playlist for some old rock n roll fans to listen to, mixed right up next to anything from Sticky Fingers or Exile On Main Street & nobody would bitch. I tried it.
That’s why at the end of the day all I can say is that it’s a great album, and I think that Mick & Keith would both give their right arm for this kind of album any time in at least the past 30 years.
Even though I’ve seen him in person, I picture the songwriting Javi as something like Javier Bardem’s character in No Country For Old Men. This album is the audio equivalent to that movie. I happen to love both but even if you hate the movie you should really give it a listen anyway.
Javi Garcia – The Great Controversy – Still about a month out from official release, this one figures to hit the Texas Music scene waters like a cannonball from a particularly gnarly, foreboding pirate ship. A brilliant follow-up to his bracing 2010 debut, Garcia drags the devil himself out of hiding on the title track (imagine the Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil” crossed with Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues”) and tackles all matter of lowlife drama on the similarly scary likes of “The Sound,” “Josephine,” and a handful of other blackly imaginative tales of lust, dope, and revenge. If it’s a little too rough for the radio, it’s probably just about perfect for the soundtracks to a half dozen or so suitably gritty cable TV dramas knocking around right now.
Javi Garcia – The Great Controversy
Life, love and the pursuit of happiness can get pretty bloody during the journey. Javi Garcia isn’t afraid to tell such stories. “I’ve got a fire in my belly. And coal in my throat. The words that I spit. Would make most writers choke.”
Javi’s latest release, The Great Controversy is his latest collection of these happy endings. Javi’s newest release The Great Controversy is act 3 to a Southern Horror. It creeps in with the familiar outro from Flood, thumping into the clapping, stomping and dirty garage guitar licks of the records first track The Sound. A song about a girl who through choices of her own isn’t the apple of her Daddy’s eye anymore. She doesn’t like to hear her fathers truth about her life choices of drug abuse and being a whore, truth hurts sometimes. Nightfall, a story of self destruction by making the same choices over and over expecting a different result.“And you fall. And you fall. Just like the last time. Your doing it again. When you crawl. When you crawl. Right back to nightfall. You just can’t win.” The title track to the record The Great Controversy, the cosmic battle between good and evil from the devils perspective with a killer honky tonk guitar lick. “You can whisper a prayer. You can shout out a hymn. But it doesn’t change the fact that your more like me than him.” Josephine is the Black Tambourine on this record. Horns, grand piano, slide guitar, shaker and more shaker. This Rolling Stones-esque track is a rock and roll jam session. “We both know baby you weren’t born to be queen. So get down honey and don’t stop until its clean. Josephine.”
Savanna, a story of avenge for the rape and murder of a father’s daughter. Forgiveness from the Lord is the only refuge he seeks. Another punch you in your face, push you down, driving rhythm, To Be Free feels like a conversation with Satan about breaking free from his stranglehold. The horns, accordian and percussion in Cut Throat delivers like the theme song to a Robert Rodriguez flick. The song tells a tale of a barber or in this case barber surgeon who starts cutting the throats of his clientele with his straight razor. He ends up getting the electric chair in the end. Again, Javi and his bedtime stories. 30 Years , eventually nobody is going to give a shit about you. That is my take on it. Stick to the facts is a truth punch to the face. In a world where we are filled with lies, conspiracy and propaganda let’s try to stick to the facts.
“Through spider web cracked and broken glass. I let all the world before me pass. This ruthless toothless grinning mask. Ain’t held in place with candle wax. So let’s try to stick to the facts. Try to stick to the facts. Stick to the facts.”
This record sounds like Javi and the players went into a garage, shut the doors, broke the knob off, recorded this record and burnt the place to the ground. There were no survivors and no better understanding of The Great Controversy, all according to the master plan of questions without answers.
Play this record loud
2 nominations for 2012 Lone Star Music Awards
– Album Art Of The Year (for Javi’s work on “Mike McClure Band – Fifty Billion”)
– Album Art Of The Year (for Javi’s work on “The Damn Quails – Down The Hatch”)
“Javi Garcia’s songs are written with an elegant cool darkness that rattles the bones, shakes the soul and bleeds with integrity. believe it.”
4 nominations for 2011 Lone Star Music Awards
– Album Of The Year
– Emerging Artist Of The Year
– Album Art Of The Year (for Javi’s work on “Javi Garcia – A Southern Horror”)
– Album Art Of The Year (for Javi’s work on “Mike McClure Band – Halfway Out Of The Woods”)
He’s just 30 years old, but alt-country singer-songwriter Javi Garcia has the world weary soul and voice of someone in their 50s. As such, even though the New Braunfels native has only been playing music professionally for a couple of years, his songs reek with the pathos and anger of post-addicted Steve Earle.
Garcia and his band, The Cold, Cold Ground, recently self-released A Southern Horror, their debut full-length. The double-album release is packed with gritty tales of life lived on the fringes. Songs such as “Lose Control,” “As Wicked as You” and “The Pills” show Garcia to be a talented songwriter who doesn’t mind hanging out on the dark side of town.
Few artists are as intense and authentic, especially in modern Texas Music, as Javi Garcia. The man bleeds art in every sense of the word. He’s an author, poet, songwriter, painter, graphic designer and more. His fiery live show sermons, when teamed with his band The Cold, Cold Ground have led him to become one of the most buzzed about performers in Texas over the past year. He has a throaty Bingham-esque growl paired with a punk rock attitude. It is truly something to behold.
Though he is a mainstay of Hill Country venues like Cheatham Street Warehouse and Billy’s Ice, Javi Garcia is not to be mistaken for another contender to the crowd-pleasing Texas country-rock crowd. If you need a hyphenated appellation, folk-metal might be a better fit for Garcia’s blend of trailer-park doomsday balladry and ominous electric guitar riffs, and though it’s not the friendliest sound on the market it certainly hits home for listeners up to the challenge. Shot through with profane thoughts on the loaded guns, bootleg drugs and dysfunctional hearts that have contributed to backwater chaos for generations, this compelling debut rarely strays from its doomed path – if you think the title character of “Isabelle” is going to make it to the end of the song alive, your optimism might be misplaced. Side trips into Stonesy groove-rock (“Black Tambourine”) and semi-bluegrass (“As Wicked As You”) give some respite from the metallic crunch, and Garcia’s distinctly hard-assed voice (he could go rasp-for-rasp with Ryan Bingham any day) fuses the whole thing together with a personality that is as undeniable as it is unflinching.
“If Javi Garcia’s songs don’t stir you, you had better check your pulse. You may be dead. You can’t “not listen” when Javi is singing. It’s not background music.”
“I haven’t liked a CD like that in a long time. His lyrics are intense and so his delivery. It was all recorded with the full band at one time, which is damn near unheard of these days. But instead of detracting from the sound, it adds a mean edge to it. Killer songs, great arrangements and a shit ton of passion went into this record. Once again I find myself with Javi’s artwork in my hands. Being in the so-called ‘music biz’ for a couple of decades, I can be fairly jaded. It’s always nice to get hit upside the head every now and then and “Southern Horror” did just that.”
Take one part Texas country, one part southern rock, one part garage band mix them together with a pinch of anger and a dash of fierce independence and what you’ll get is Javi Garica and the Cold Cold Ground. The debut release from these New Braunfels boys is a two disc set, one full length with an EP, titled Southern Horror that landed in the midst of the Texas music scene swinging its fists and taking on all comers. The whole Texas/Red Dirt scene is independent but Javi Garcia takes that a step farther without going over the line into hyperbole. The title smacks of the “southern gothic” genre which I usually avoid but I heard the music first and it’s definitely not anything close to that. What it is pure Texas music and as usual it defies being placed solidly into a genre.
There’s not much out there on the history of Javi Garica and the Cold Cold Ground but the music speaks for itself. Sixteen tracks spread across two discs is a lot of music and the whole shindig starts out with a little murder ballad almost worthy of putting on a Mother’s Day compilation or maybe a Father’s Day compilation depending on your bent and the depths of your daddy issues. There are a few songs out there about disappearing an abusive asshole one way or another but the starkness of the music and the underlying fiddle makes this one of my favorites. “Voodoo Queen” kicks up the reverb a little bit with a rocker that wouldn’t be out of place in a seedy biker bar. The anger still shows through in “God and Country” and Javi almost reminds me of Michael Dean Damron with the way he belts out his anger in this one. A little bitterness at the scene shows through in “Lose Control” but not so much that it comes across as melodramatic. And that’s they way the next twelve tracks go as well. It’s almost as if Javi Garcia just opened up his closet, drug out a skeleton, fired up a bowl or knocked back a fifth with it and then proceeded to exorcise it in song. This is not a happy two discs and there are some dark themes but it’s full of damn good music. Hell you may even find some catharsis of your own in track or two. I recommend taking with whiskey, alone, in the dark and seeing if you can get what Lewis Grizzard refers to as “…crying about your daddy drunk” because this is the right kind of music to use a soundtrack for just that. And yes this is essential listening.
“Javi Garcia is pure talent and guts. His songs are gritty and come at the listener like a breath of pure reality and life. He is wise far beyond his years”
“I’m a big fan of in your face hard edged songwriting and constantly get told that this guy or that guy writes “dark” and I should check them out. Javi Garcia makes all other “dark” songwriters look like the tooth fairy.”
“If substance has been lost in local rock ‘n’ roll talent, it can be found in Javi Garcia and The Cold Cold Ground. Songwriting is seldom this whole -hearted, and their ability to play the blues truly defines raw emotion. A subtle style of pain and anger is the niche for Javi Garcia and his band and it serves them well. But do not be mistaken, their music shows great direction in a presently mixed up music scene. This New Braunfels,TX group has got it together and may be taking the forms we know as rock and blues at a new angle that they deserve”
This recording is just brilliant. Ruff around the edges, honest and with that great tone the ears are always bending for. Great whiskey drinking by the open fire kindda music.
“When I first put on “A Southern Horror,” Javi Garcia slapped me in the face. When he invited me and 11 Bones to play his Rock n Roll Circus, he slapped me again. Honesty. In song and performance. Pure and simple. There are truths inside Javi that need to be set free and he holds nothing back. He doesn’t write songs because he wants to, he writes them because he HAS to.”
Javi Garcia and the Cold Cold Ground are springing forth and aren’t much interested in happy tales that give listeners the warm fuzzies that a hearty kolache might. Truth be told, I’ll take Garcia’s record, Southern Horror, over roadside snacks, any day of the week.
From the band name, to the macabre, Dia de los Muertos-style album artwork (which was designed by Garcia, naturally), to the stories that are told from the opening notes of the album’s first track, “Comal Country River”, so much of the ambitious double album is a work of art and literature as it is a musical document that deserves greater attention. Yeah, that’s right – this is a double album. And, it’s produced by Garcia, himself, who also just happen to write all of the songs. The EP that is paired with the album to complete the dangerous duo is entitled Madly in Anger, and as with the title of the primary record, the title fits the blues-infused country rock of Garcia to a tee.
Ambition is great and admirable, especially in artists that are still making their way up the proverbial Texas music ladder, but without some real meat on the skeleton bones of simple ambition, all the listener is left with is, well, a shell of an album that never really gets anywhere. Fortunately, it’s glaringly obvious that Garcia’s ambition is backed by an ample amount of authority and substance; his hustle bolstered by some serious muscle.
The ghostly strain of Garcia’s vocals manage to recall the well-known rasp of fellow hill country-dweller Ray Wylie Hubbard, and it’s a perfect fit for his tales of murder, screwed-up family members and bloody dangerous women. Heck, sometimes those subjects are rolled into one devilishly satisfying yarn. As for influences and comparisons, it’s also hard not to notice the grime and grit of Mescolito-era Ryan Bingham, especially as the impact of the soulful “Lose Control” plays on. Of course, there’s enough here to distinguish Garcia apart from established greats and help his cause as he continues to dig his own gothic-country pathway into his dark ambitions.
“Javi Garcia is going to rip the f***ing face off of “Texas music” as we know it”
“A Southern Horror” è lo sconvolgente e traumatico debutto di Javi Garcia & Cold Cold Ground; un pugno in pancia ben assestato, di quelli che ti fanno sputare sangue ma che tuttavia hanno il pregio di sbatterti in faccia come stanno le cose e farti ricordare di essere ancora al mondo in qualche modo e per qualche inevitabile motivo!
Sarebbe fin troppo facile scomodare assonanze e paragoni con nomi come Drive By Truckers, Chris Knight o Ryan Bingham ma, anche dove l’intento non è certo quello di ricercare qualcosa di nuovo sotto il cielo del rock’n’roll, qui suona tutto tremendamente fresco ed inspiegabilmente catartico; in ogni caso, quello che è sicuro è che non dovete aspettarvi una boccata di aria pulita perché qui il puzzo brutale dell’onestà e della passione con la quale Javi Garcia si confronta vi ribalterà lo stomaco sottosopra! Testi espliciti e diretti che affrontano con sconcertante realismo amore, morte, fede e speranza e che cercano redenzione in un sound crudo e istintivo spingendo le chitarre nei territori più selvaggi, scuri e notturni del country, del blues e del southern rock!
Tutto è già abbastanza chiaro fin dall’apertura di “Comal County River” dove i soprusi e gli abusi di un padre vengono lavati nel sangue e nella quale la band ospita in studio il leggendario Master della Telecaster Redd Volkaert e Brady Black, fenomeno della Randy Rogers Band, al fiddle a confezionare una ballad dagli accenni country che blocca il respiro in partenza per poi rovesciarsi nelle sferzate rock di una sulfurea “Voodoo Queen” al termine della quale siamo già posseduti; la disperazione di “God And Country”, spaccato reale di un’America nella quale accettare di arruolarsi in guerra diventa unica soluzione per estinguere debiti e sfamare i figli, tiene il passo verso una “Lose Control” dove la fame, la sete e l’angoscia di portare a casa il giorno non mollano la presa e diventano quasi un manifesto del romanticismo del rock’n’roll quando Garcia canta…“ho provato a vendere la mia band in tutta la nazione ma nessuno di questi codardi ha voluto offrirci una serata…i pozzi si sono ormai prosciugati e ho bisogno di mettere del cibo nel mio piatto, dobbiamo parlare adesso signore perché questo non può apettare…ho incontrato molte persone e ascoltato un sacco di gruppi, tutti hanno da mangiare e soldi in mano mentre io rimango a guardare come un cane in strada che lotta per ogni morso che riesce a buttare giù”.
“Black Tambourine” è un esercizio che richiama i migliori Rolling Stones con le sue allusioni diaboliche e sessuali mentre “Blame Me” è un’altra splendida ballata che ci introduce al sapore country/bluegrass di “As Wicked As You” in perfetto Texas-style omaggiando l’influenza di un certo Steve Earle; con “Isabelle” ci perdiamo in un rarefatto shuffle vestito da ballad per raccontare i risultati strazianti di un tradimento (“chi avrebbe immaginato che avrei dovuto farti un buco nel petto per vedere se hai mai avuto un cuore…spero tu sia felice quando seppellirò anche lui nella tua tomba”); il rockaccio di “Waking Snakes” ci porta dritti verso il duetto con il guru Mike McClure in “Weight Of The Gun” dal testo piuttosto forte e controverso dove la prospettiva di un poliziotto sulla propria mission si riassumono in passaggi come “il peso del tuo mondo si misura in tonnellate ma l’unità di misura è il peso della mia pistola…tutti abbiamo incontrato il diavolo, io l’ho solo preso per mano e tutto quello che mi ha offerto è stato una pistola ed un distintivo”; l’album si chiude con l’up-tempo di “Flood” ma non finisce qui perché con “A Southern Horror” troviamo allegato un EP di 5 brani registrati nel 2008 con il titolo di “Madly In Anger” che aggiunge carne al fuoco regalandoci altre piccole perle sofferenti e laceranti come “The Pills”, “14 Days” e “Needles & Thread” a suggellare un lavoro imprescindibile!
Javi Garcia, di New Braunfels, Texas (solo un caso?), conferma l’estrema urgenza di queste registrazioni precisando di avere suonato live in studio in pochissimi giorni, cinque per l’album e appena due per l’EP allegato.
Non chiedeteci inutili voti o sterili stelle di giudizio perché da queste parti non funziona così e “A Southern Horror”, che vi piaccia o no, è uno dei dischi fondamentali dell’anno ed entra con violenza nella lista degli album favoriti del 2010 di Lonestartime! Abbiate pure il timore di confrontarvi con dischi come questo ma non trovare il coraggio di avvicinarsi al mondo di Javi Garcia & Cold Cold Ground vi renderebbe vigliacchi due volte!!!