INK19, 2003

C. Gibbs and the Cardia Bros. The Pinkerman Set

Christian Gibbs has worked with a who’s who of artists, starting with Modern English in their revival (’90-’91), J.G. Thirwell (aka Foetus) and Dave Vanian (The Damned). He also had a stint on Atlantic Records, resulting in an album. All of this is to say I feel like the last man on earth to hear about this surprising event.

Gibbs has a unique songwriting style, melodramatic but never overbearing. The musical emotions expressed are never simply sad or happy, instead tending towards more complicated tints and textures, things like melancholia and amusement. The combination of his introspective style and Gerald Menke’s slide and pedal steel often gives these songs a heart-tugging George Harrison element. “Oversized Pincushion” rumbles around a swampy slide buzz and “Killing Snakes” is a more orchestrated piece, threaded together with piano and strings, but both have surreal lyrics that verge on agony and lunacy. “Straps and Chains” is a country moment via Neil Young and Son Volt. “Tall Shoe Marie” and “Donna Marie”, with their gypsy inflections and orchestration, sound suspiciously like Gogol Bordello, another Rubric act. The bursts of piano through the album are percussive and strong, leading into uncharted chords, giving some songs (especially “Dear M”) a strong ’70s sound. Still, none of this sounds retro nor dated. Another home run for Rubric Records.