The Minus 5 – “The Gun Album” (Yep Roc Records)

I always look forward to a new Minus 5 record because I know that I will get an impressive rock and roll education in every song. The brain child of prolific songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Scott McCaughey, The Gun Album, or properly “The Trials Posthumous of The Minus 5 containing The Epistle Dedicatory” sounds like the perfect bunch of tunes to be played at the old Red Dog Saloon. The great thing about Minus 5 records is that you kind of know where McCaughey’s band of merry rock and rollers will be going (the band consists of everybody from R.E.M.’s Peter Buck to Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy to John Wesley Harding and Posies bandmate Ken Stringfellow) but you are never quite sure how they will get there. From the Beatles-flavoured pop of opener Rifle Called Goodbye to straight-ahead rocker Aw Shit Man, the band turns in two completely different takes on rock and roll and those are just the first two songs! Add the wonderful With a Gun and the long-lost Byrds track that never was in Twilight Distillery (click to listen) and the Neil Young-sounding Original Luke and you have a meandering yet somehow cohesive rock and roll statement that gets better with each listening. Scott and his crew have yet to disappoint.

For an added treat check out this podcast featuring Scott and Robin Hitchcock on Cnet.