For its fifth album, Bloomington, Illinois’ Backyard Tire Fire travels to a subject it knows like the mystery smell in the back of the van: the unglamorous life of a relationship on the road.
The current Tire Fire lineup finds Ed Anderson (guitar and vocals), Matt Anderson (bass and vocals), and Tim Kramp (drums) chauffeuring us through the smoke with an oddly clear vision. Good to Be hits you hard from the start with the aptly titled "Roadsong#39". The raw, hard riff-rock guitar makes me miss the southern rock that use to flow like moonshine in the foothills of a hollow that has now run dry. Ed Anderson’s voice dances around genres throughout the album. A good example can be found on the albums synth-y namesake, featuring a clap sequence that would have made any pop band of the ‘80s proud.
Produced by Los Lobos’ Steve Berlin, the band took 11 days to cut a record that might be their best to date. That’s not to say there are not a few dings and scratches on Good to Be, but with thousands of miles on the road there are bound to be a few bumps. Yet it is the album’s energy and new-found focus that almost guarantees that more will soon see the growing black cloud of dust from Backyard Tire Fire.
Good to Be is now out on the band’s own Kelsey Street Records.