REVIEW: Have Gun, Will Travel – “Science From An Easy Chair”

Have Gun, Will Travel’s latest outing, Science From An Easy Chair, is an ode to a sunken ship and those that survived the travail. It is, while heralded as pristine in some corners, as far as I can throw a cat, mild-mannered, hit-some-targets roots-rock and, at best, a lazy attempt at a song cycle, or, worse, a lazier attempt at a tribute.

Sir Ernest Shackleton devotees — and there are many among us — might take offense at the Florida band’s seeming suggestion that a little yowling or some Southern slide, for some reason or other, informs commentary or dices context on the Endurance and its infamous South Pole expedition, now a century behind us. (Does roots rock, implying its inherent lack of land and roots, somehow antithetically inform nautical journey?) The record, out now on This Is American Music, offers few clues, sadly.

Again, the music is just fine, but why choose Science In An Easy Chair, the book that offered the not-spooked men comfort in the ice, as a narrative crutch, and how exactly are you using it, short of your title? Why not employ the far-grander South?

Guess all this vitriol just goes to show I’m protective of Endurance’s shadows. Many are. HGWT might be among them. This record, however well-intentioned, does little to prove it.

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About the author

Justin Vellucci is a staff writer for PopMatters, Spectrum Culture, and MusicTAP, a contributor to Pittsburgh Current, and a former staffer for Popdose, Punk Planet and Delusions of Adequacy. His music writing has appeared in national magazines such as American Songwriter, alt-pubs like The Brooklyn Rail, Pittsburgh CityPaper and San Diego CityBeat, blogs Swordfish, Punksburgh and Linoleum, and the Gannett magazine Jetty. He lives in Pittsburgh.

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