it’s kinda weird doing this but i’m gonna start up this review with a quote from another artist because it describes how I feel about old Americana, Bluegrass and Country music from the song “hillbilly bone” by Blake Sheldon:
We all got a hillbilly bone down deep inside
No matter where you from you just can’t hide it
When the band starts bangin’ and the fiddle saws
You can’t help but hollerin’, Yee Haw!
When you see them pretty little country queens
Man you gotta admit that in them genes
Ain’t nothin’ wrong, just gettin’ on
Your hillbilly bone-ba-bone-ba-bone-bone
yup, i like getting on my hillbilly bone and in Beijing, at the moment, the Randy Abel Stable is the band that helps me do that! The band unleashed their debut album – Stable Condition– at ‘dazeFEAST 2013. How did it stack up?
At first, i must say i was less than thrilled when i put the CD on… it had none of the energy of the live shows but soon enough, i discovered that the problem didn’t lie with the music itself, it was the EQ settings on my laptop and iPhone, the two devices i listen to music the most on. Funny enough, they’re preset for rock/metal which works most of the time. In this case, it just killed the record. Try it out folks… the difference is gigantic! Switching to the preset voice or pop settings bring back that live feeling in heartbeat.
Stable COndition features 10 songs total, 7 by Randy and 1 each by Parker, Josh and Liu Yusi. The opening number, Bluford Abel, named after one of Randy’s ancestor sets the tone right away: Old school sound, lyrics that bring you in and don’t let go… 3 chords and the truth.
Stable Condition keeps things going along the same lines before the uptempo “This Old Town” kicks things uptempo a few notches. My understanding is that it’s a song written about Beijing but it really could be anywhere.
Buzzards of Hinckley, with some of my favourite lyrics on the record, leaves me wanting. As an old school song, it’s perfect but it just feels forced on the chorus.
The surprise song of the record comes in right after that: the Parker-penned Czexan! WTF is Czexan? Well, i dont have time to ask them but as far as i could google, it’s a weird mixture of Texan and Czech: Czexan. I just love this song and the chorus: ” don’t you ever call me when you’ve been drinking”… i wanna sit down with a bottle of bourbon and hear/sing it over and over.
Death O’clock shadow has some beautiful albeit morbid penmanship. Second Bar to the Right and Who’s Mr. Jones are right up there at the top of Beijing-infused songs that i know i’ll listen to years down the line and remember the city with a little smile on my face.
I’ve tried to like the following little number, Muddy Lake, but i just can’t. As much as i dig the track and the chorus live, it’s not working on the record. The vocals feel forced and distorted, making a beautiful song sound fake….
The lighthearted autobiographical Tout Va Bien is a beautiful closer for this nicely crafted record… Randy has a way with words! It just has a party vibe, akin Jambalaya on the Bayou and I dig it.
Overall, I’m pleasantly impressed. The band has gone a long way since those days of motley crewing their way around pickers night at Great Leap. It’s a nice and diverse selection of songs, well crafted both lyrically and musically. The album doesn’t make or need apologies for being made in China. It’s solid and definitely worth a listen, especially with a little dose of bourbon. I’m proud of the guys to see how far they’ve come! Great job guys and especially Randy…
Now, why the fuck wasn’t Paddy O’Shea’s included in the record??? I’m stuck listening to it on douban only…
Get your hands on Stable Condition over at
or catch the band live in Beijing.