CJA / SMOKEHOUSE “Whisky & Freedom” (Abandon Ship)

Another entry in prolific NZ strangeling Clayton Noone’s bottomless lexicon of side projects and sideways psych glances, this time from his CJA alias. Confessional guitar ballads, dead space, and gravedigger rock and roll minimalism collide in a slow-burn fashion that feels deceptively traditional until you allow it to seep in for a spell and work its odd charms on yr bones/brain. Basically he strums a couple chords over and over and louder and louder and weirder until you realize there’s sometimes even lyrics being mumbled in the din and so you look at the song title at it says “Let Her Go” and you go, “Whoa.” Serious shit. But then you look at another song title and it says “Vegemite Eggs on Toast” and you go, “Oh, what a Men At Work down under jokester!” The truth lies somewhere between the two. Pick your own path through this stuff. There’s a picture of a rusted truck on the cover if that helps explain anything.