Cultural Consumption: 1/9/24

Cultural Consumption: 1/9/24
Lonesome Highway

If you're anything like me, you regularly lose track of artists whose work you've actively enjoyed. Hooked up to this great informational firehose we're all attached to, I'm not sure there are enough "follow" buttons, push notifications, or newsletter blasts in all the world to prevent new stuff from slipping through the net, even if it's new stuff we really want to experience.

That's my story with Dave Hause's most recent album, Drive It Like It's Stolen, which was released last April and I only got around to hearing today. In my somewhat limited defense, I was unaware of this record's existence for most of those months, but even still — I'm sure I stumbled across it at some point toward the end of last year, then forgot about it, and might well have lost it to my own brain worms if not for a small voice screaming "DAVE HAUSE" when I asked myself what I wanted to listen to today.

Well, hooray for small voices, because this is some pretty good shit. My entry point with Hause came courtesy of 2017's Bury Me in Philly, which I purchased on vinyl largely because it included the spiteful, fist-raising anthem "Dirty Fucker," a song so magnificent that it earned Dave a permanent spot on my Artists Who Are Cool list. If I'm remembering right, I first heard about him because of a connection with Matthew Ryan or Northcote, or possibly both — and if you're familiar with either of those artists, then you've got a pretty good idea of what to expect from Drive It Like It's Stolen.

This is, in short, blue-collar, tattooed, loudly humanist rock 'n' roll, planted defiantly at the spot on the AOR axis where Springsteen, Mellencamp, and Seger have long stood. The people in these songs are often down on their luck; they've definitely learned that life is liable to spit in your eye and give you a solid whack on the chin. They're bloody, but they're unbowed — even when everything is going to shit and payday feels like it's forever away, they still keep plugging, and they always have more than enough gumption to call out a dirty fucker when they see one.

This probably sounds pretty glib, and I admit that the type of music I'm describing can be seen as fairly formulaic at this point — but then again, what isn't, and anyway, formulas only become formulas because they work. I tend to find this one pretty damn effective in the right hands, and while I concede some folks are probably liable to regard Hause's stuff as Springsteen lite, I find it to be eminently enjoyable and often genuinely affecting. Looks like I've missed a few albums between here and Bury Me in Philly. I must repent. In the meantime, I leave you with this Drive It Like It's Stolen highlight:

Dave Hause, "Hazard Lights"

Watching: Moonlighting S5 E5, "Shirts and Skins," in which an ad executive who loses her job for refusing to have sex with her boss responds by marching into the boardroom and shooting him in the leg. Maddie reads about the case in the paper and feels compelled to offer the woman her investigative services pro bono; meanwhile, David has been approached by one of the men from the firm, who wants to hire Blue Moon to dig up dirt on the shooter. After arguing, David and Maddie decide to split up and take opposite sides of the case, dragging the entire office into their battle of the sexes. On one hand, this type of disagreement was beyond worn out at this point in the series; on the other, it plays out here with more nuance than it might have in previous seasons, and the episode's climax contains none of the strained screwball antics that left a sheen of flop sweat on recent installments. Bonus points for the blooper reels that run during the closing credits.

Reading: Still making my way through William Diehl's Thai Horse. Look, what do you want from me? Reading is how I unwind before falling asleep at night.

Around the Bend: I've got some fun stuff lined up for paid subscribers, including the return of the Great Gross-Off (scheduled for this Saturday) and the return of Bootleg City (probably happening next Saturday). I've owed Dave Lifton an Earmageddon for like ten years, so who knows? That could be next. Point is: If you're a paid subscriber, I'm busy making plans to make it even more worth your while. If you aren't, you'll be missing some cool stuff.