Review: Boxcar Satan

Boxcar Satan
“Upstanding And Indigent”
(Dog Fingers)

Boxcar Satan takes so much from Captain Beefheart one almost has to look past it to realize how good the group is. Vocalist Sanford Allen is a real Beefheart sound-alike and he also plays guitar in the intricate, angular style of The Magic Band’s Jeff Cotton. However, Boxcar Satan is heavier and darker than the Captain, coming from the post-goth direction of bands like Scratch Acid and the early Birthday Party. The content of such damaged characters as a bandit queen (“Shoot Down the Sun”) and an alcoholic that trades drink for the Lord (“Drunk on the Blood of the Lamb”) owes much to Tom Waits. Boxcar Satan certainly has all of the right references and expertly mixes up the elements for a manic, imaginative damaged blues album. Many press references cite a Southern influence, but I find that valid only when considering the gonzo early punk tradition of Texas bands such as Roky Erickson, Big Boys and early Butthole Surfers. Few bands run such an excellent spectrum and shine so well in its multi-hued glow.