The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website

Baker's Dozen

These Vibrated Me: Josh T. Pearson's Favourite Music
Nick Hutchings , May 23rd, 2018 09:03

Josh T. Pearson guides Nick Hutchings through the personally sacred songs of his Baker's Dozen, from the Bad Seeds to Gorecki, Spiritualized to MBV and why Texas ranchers were no fan of Morrissey's work ethic

In the beginning, Josh T. Pearson was a self-professed "stupid ranch hand in a Texas rock band, trying to understand God's master plan". After he laid to rest the mutton chops, Stetson and apocalyptic testimonies of his cult 90s post-rock act Lift To Experience, his second coming was as a hirsute man in black behind the crushingly emotional, finger picking minimalism of first solo album Last of the Country Gentlemen. I'd always thought that was a break-up record, but it turns out it was way more even than that, "Absolutely it was a divorce from God and women both." Being so "devastating to record" he's gone away again, and spent a further seven years in the wilderness. Now I'm meeting Josh T. Pearson in a fascinating new incarnation, resurrected as a deadpan and dandyish cow-punk for new almost concept record The Straight Hits! - the messianic beard succeeded by swashbuckling Errol Flynn pencil moustache. He's way funnier in person that you may have imagined from the browbeaten first two records, but the signs were there, even in the bleakness of 'Country Dumb' with sardonic lyrics like: "I know that Jesus saves / Cause nothing in this world is for free".

He's way more than you might expect, a great orator, with keenly felt and easily accessed emotions – at one point in the interview the memory of one tune has his voice wavering and tears welling – but he's also self-effacing and it's clear he's been agonising over his musical choices – both in his own band over the years and in the albums he's selected for this list.

He had been toying with songs that had influenced him or songs he felt people needed to listen to, admitting that he quit listening to "boundary-pushing" music in "the earlier oughts" because "nothing vibrated me, I didn't really dig deeper", instead exploring pop country and opera. Despite that he's gone for an eclectic mix, among which there are complex compositions, outlaw country storytelling and of course from the real life son of a preacher-man, there's religion too, about which he intriguingly describes himself as "a recoverer".

Josh T Pearson is playing the Sea Change Festival in Totnes this August Bank Holiday weekend - for tickets and information go here. He plays Primavera at the end of the month. The Straight Hits! is out now on Mute. Click the pic of Josh T. Pearson below to begin reading his choices