50THIRDAND3RD Staff Picks – Album Of The Year: Mr. Airplane Man “Jacaranda Blue”

Texas troubadour Doug Sahm was said to long be in search of “the groove.” The groove was an intangible. A feeling, a vibe, a sound. The search for a kindred spirit in this wide world. It’s a concept with which a lot of us can identify. The ramblers, the wanderers. It’s a feeling we seek, like walking into a warm and cozy pub at the end of a long day. Like driving someplace on a beautiful day with the windows down, listening to an album we know so well that the songs get stuck in our heads in track order.

Several albums were contenders for my pick of the year, but there’s only one that I can say embodies the groove for me, and that’s Mr. Airplane Man’s “Jacaranda Blue,” which came out in March on Sympathy for the Record Industry.

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A two-piece band, Mr. Airplane Man does stripped-down updated blues so well. It’s a driving beat, it’s the guitar line that comes in and out, at times a seemingly effortless background riff, building into fierce wails that might make you shout something like, “Fuck yes!” while listening, whether you’re standing in your kitchen slicing onions or walking down the street with your earbuds in.

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The band is named after a Howlin’ Wolf song, and I think that fact sums up the spirit of their tunes. It’s the original bare bones blues model. A beat, whether stomping feet or high hat, paired with a guitar line that keeps things in line, and topped off with a soul-baring moan, a plea for love, for home, for peace. It’s a 1-2-3 formula that started long ago, and being able to experience it on a brand new record in 2018 is a wonderful respite from the harsher realities of living in the future.

Put on “Jacaranda Blue” and close your eyes. Let the groove find you and wash over you. Let it take you back in time, only as far as you wanna go. To a time where you felt at safe, and at home. Or if you’re a masochist like me, maybe the moment your heart first broke in two. Whichever. Both.

Happy New Year, everyone. And thank you for reading.

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Dacia lives in Austin, Texas, where she writes, drinks & listens to records.

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