Tonight: Cowboy Junkies at the House of Blues (+ MP3s!)

Damn, tonight (Tues., June 15th, that is) is an easy, easy, easy one, at least from where I sit — The Cowboy Junkies are in town this evening, playing over at the House of Blues, which I’m thinking would actually be a pretty cool setting in which to see the band, in this particular case.

Although, now that I think about it, pretty much anywhere would work — maybe the more minimal, the better. I still remember playing the Junkies’ songs on late-night shifts at KTRU and imagining dark, tense, windswept road movies set to the stark, unsettling, nearly Gothic (but not Goth, mind you) country-blues of “Seven Years”; singer Margo Timmins could honestly sing nonsense rhymes about ice cream, and I’d be enthralled, but the gloomy, subtly foreboding lyrics and overall sound pushes the whole thing way, way beyond that.

The Junkies are one of those bands that I honestly can’t understand how they never made it bigger than they have (although a couple of platinum albums and a few more gold ain’t bad). Glad to see they’re still touring and recording — today, in fact, is apparently the official-shmofficial release date for new album Renmin Park, which I’m told will be the first in what they’re calling “The Nomad Series”, a set of four releases over the next year-and-a-half or so. This first chunk is based around an “other-worldly” trip frontman/songwriter Michael Timmins took a while back to China, and it’ll include a couple of covers of (no, not making this up) songs written by well-known Chinese musicians. Wow.

And from what I’ve heard of it so far, it promises to be damn good. Check out a couple of tracks from Renmin Park right here:

    The Cowboy Junkies – “Cicadas”
    The Cowboy Junkies – “Stranger Here”

Both are near-perfect, in my book. On “Cicadas,” in particular, I freaking love how the band can start a song all low-key and innocent and then slowly creep their way towards what sure sounds like a statement on the fragility of life and, um, something about how we’re not all that far from the creatures we destroy without even thinking about it. Gives me chills…

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