Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

For Blurry Blue Mountain, his 17th long-player leading the revolving crew that has fallen under the Giant Sand moniker for the last 25 years, Howe Gelb casts a wise eye back on an influential career firmly and happily situated outside the mainstream. “They’ve been killing off all my heroes since I was 17,” he sings on the opener and highlight, “Fields Of Green.” The Tucson-based avant-folkie tells tales, offers advice, and causes a little ruckus throughout the record, evoking the likes of M. Ward, Todd Snider, and Bill Callahan—younger songwriters who descend from Gelb, directly or indirectly. Blurry Blue Mountain is a cozy, enjoyable listen—though perhaps a little too long—and Gelb comes off like a cool uncle, happy to nod sagely while we sit around and listen to his stories. He’s a Southwestern Tom Waits without the junkyard sounds and eccentricities, a man who’s paid his dues and seems happy to offer some advice to those who have gathered around over the past couple of decades. “Now I amble over 50,” he sings later on the aforementioned first track. “I’m approached by those in need of reminder / confusing me with pathfinder / I tell them with a crinkled smile and a smoldering spark-eyed glisten / to be quiet for just a while and give your own heart a good listen.”


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