King of the Tramps
Before receiving a review copy of Wicked Mountain I hadn’t even heard of King Of The Tramps’ hometown, Auburn, Iowa. It’s apparently a ‘suburb’ of Carroll, Iowa, which is to say it must be vanishingly small–the sort of Iowa town that barely exists and keeps getting smaller. Completely irrelevant to this review, but it’s worth visiting www.auburniowa.net, whose homepage is dominated by a slideshow of a town completely devoid of human habitation. The town motto should be “Auburn: Park Wherever You Like.” It’s a place where you make your own entertainment or go quietly mad.
Todd Partridge, lead singer and songwriter for King Of Tramps has been bouncing around the Central Iowa roots music scene for almost 20 years, and his singing and songwriting reflect the sort of relaxed prowess that comes from thousands of hours of rehearsal and hundreds of shows. The centerpiece/title song, with it’s chain-gang theme (and clanking chain beat) is nearly perfect with simple, painfully evocative lyrics (“Climbin to the top of Wicked Mountain, locks and chains on my feet”) marching beats and a scorching southern-rock coda. This song should still be sung in a hundred years by people with no idea where it came from.
It’s hard for the other songs on the album to measure up to that standard, but they’re all well-written country rock songs with clever lyrical turns, as on “Jesus Saves” when Todd sings “If Jesus saves, then I’m the devil ‘cause I spend all my time with you. If money is the root of all evil, then I must be a saint.” It’s also clear that King Of The Tramps must be the sort of live band that can demolish any venue. You’ll be able to check out their skill as musical arsonists on August 10 at the Yacht Club.
Kent Willams wants you to know a mol a bord iz nor a bord.