March 15th, 2014 by Mitch Cardwell
Lemme fill you hobos in on some key facts before we tackle the platter at hand. ROSS JOHNSON, former co-conspirator of famed goons like TAV FALCO and ALEX CHILTON, has littered a slew of legendary records with his simplistic, drunken poetics and semicompetent drumming. JEFFREY EVANS’ legend looms large in the record collections of a great many beefy American rockers, having fronted the criminally underappreciated units known as GIBSON BROS and 68 COMEBACK, specializing in rock ’n’ roll injected with truth serum and scholarly smarts. These guys rate really goddamn high in my book, so I’m on board and beer number three before even dropping the tone arm.
Vanity Session, their aptly named dream-team debut, is the product of a year’s worth of late nights spent serenading town drunks around Memphis, Tennessee. The vibe is pure barroom, only with this royal duo holding court, chatting your ear off, leering at ladies in younger demographics and obliterating rock ’n’ roll to its most basic and deviant levels. Johnson’s bop is next-level genius shit here, no joke. It’s impossible to pull a specific quote or drunken riff to single out because the flow is so goddamn perfect that you never want it to end. Think you’ve heard all that could ever be done with a standard such as “Girl Watcher?” Think again! Ridiculous! Evans keeps things firmly grounded musically, which ain’t an easy task considering the substances rumored to be afloat during the sessions (ARTHER LEE’s weed?!). Add the capable backing of TEARJERKERS and REIGNING SOUND personnel, not to mention genius producer Jim Dickinson steering the ship (his turn fronting the boys for “I’ve Had It” is jaw-dropping!!!) and you have an absolute can’t-miss record, the sort that is all too rare in this day and age. It’s already become the soundtrack to my stay-home weeknight drunks… those kinda nights where you rationalize drinking toward blindness because your day off is only X hours away.
Vanity Session simply spills over with charm, sounding lecherous, intelligent and highly rockin’ all at once. It’s real rock ’n’ roll music, and it’s been too long since you last heard it.