“In Madagascar”/“Bar Abbas Blues”
Backed by the No Neck Blues Band and members of Sunburned Hand of the Man, Charles Speer is making me regret I missed his Lisa’s performance not too long ago. Speer, née Dave Shuford, surrounds himself with well-oiled weapons: Progressive New York outfit No Neck has been around since 1992, and their telepathy shines on this feast of waxy barroom ruckus.
This single, a follow-up to Shuford’s well-received long player After Hours, finds him and pianist Hans Chew, who penned “Bar Abbas,” connecting on several levels: festive choruses, straightforward lyrics and plenty of positivity. “Bar Abbas” mines country, blues, a touch of R&B and piano flourishes. A welcome respite from an increasingly watered-down alt-country genre, Speer & Co.’s flailing tempest of sass is red-carpet treatment for ears fried by twang. Lucky for you, you don’t have to dress up. The Helix will take you as you are.