Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
I am not even sure where to begin on this one. My first thought was this is very raw. Very raw indeed. At first blush, you may think this is just another basement tape by a fledgling artist. Actually, it is so much more. This could be groundbreaking. While experimental is a word you may hear or read to describe this, I disagree with that moniker. Experimental infers a sort of trial and error approach. Just throwing stuff against the wall to see what sticks. I prefer to call this unconventional. Thunderhead, whose real name is Barry Madison, knows exactly what he is doing. He writes, records, and plays all of the instruments on his tracks. That alone is an incredible feat. Madison also pushes the envelope. Let me change that, he completely obliterated the envelope and created a new structure altogether. In the rawness, there is something incredibly infectious and beautiful. Energy cannot be created or destroyed but Thunderhead found a way to horde energy. A lot of energy. If you take some Dylan, Beck, Beatles, Velvet Underground, and some Stones, you may come close to a valid description of what Barry Madison (Thunderhead) has created. I hear a lot of music and I have never heard anything quite like this. It is beautiful noise in all its glory.
Now time for brass tacks, the music. Redwood Country (Track 14) starts off like a Velvet Underground song with a little dose of feedback and a minimalistic guitar, bass, and drum riff that is lovely. When Thunderhead starts singing, it sounds like early Beck before he decided to try his hand at disco. This song is one of the best I have heard in quite a while. Words don’t do this song or album the proper justice it deserves. Bottlemouthwindowsilllightning (Track 1) is another song that will leave you awestruck. It is a blues number with an incredibly rich musical backdrop that is almost symphonic. Again, it is hard to imagine that this song was conceived and executed by just one guy. Love Is Such A Sweet Sensation (Track 6) is a song that is a cross between the Beatles and Velvet Underground. Big City Country Girl (Track 9) sounds like it could have come directly off of Sticky Fingers or Exile On Main Street.
Thunderhead is not a copycat or a tribute artist but is a synthesis of those driving forces to create something new and unique. I dare say he created a masterpiece, but that is what I want to say. Some may compare Thunderhead to Daniel Johnston because of the DIY spirit. But, that is where the comparisons end. Thunderhead is a much more well-rounded song writer and musician than Johnston. I am truly blessed to have had the opportunity to hear and experience his music. I hope you get to experience it as well. You can say you knew about him before everyone else. That’s because it isn’t a matter of IF Thunderhead will be a star, it is a matter of when. Hail to thee, Thunderhead! Time to jump on the bandwagon, there is plenty of room.
Go to his Bandcamp site here to listen and buy this.