Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Fifty States: Kansas

Damnations: Kansas [purchase]

So, I go from posting about The Jayhawks to posting about the Jayhawk State. The Damnations, however, were not from Kansas. In fact, they were a group of Austinites, led by a pair of gorgeous, folk-singing sisters originally from upstate New York. Bassist Amy Boone sings lead on this tale of "Bleeding Kansas," with acoustic rhythm guitar and harmonies provided by her sister, Deborah Kelly. Meanwhile, Rob Bernard (also of Prescott Curlywolf) takes a break from his Eddie Van Halen meets D. Boon guitar badassery to hunker down on banjo and mandolin, while fellow Prescott moonlighter, Keith Langford, holds down the drum kit. (Soon after this recording, Langford would leave both The Damnations and Prescott Curlywolf to join The Gourds full-time, where he remains to this day). Finally, a subtle fiddle part is added by Eamon McLoughlin, now of The Greencards.

Sadly, this 1999 recording captures The Damnations at their short-lived peak. As the new millennium dawned, it seemed like the band was poised to break out. They had the sirens up front, songs that ranged from hoe-down country to melodic pop to cowpunk, and were gradually building up a devoted following. Unfortunately, within a year of releasing their debut album, Half Mad Moon (linked above), their label, Sire Records, merged with London and the band got lost in the promotional shuffle. Not only that, they recorded their second album just as the Sire-London partnership ended, leaving the band with no options as they were legally bound to the label that was itself in financial and legal limbo and had no interest in promoting them. By the time they released Where It Lands, their sophomore follow-up, the band existed in name only. RIP The Damnations.

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