Hey, you gotta start somewhere. For
Whipkey, it began as a solo artist back in '00 with the self-release
of The Innocence EP. Shortly thereafter, he formed The Movies
with drummer Doug Kabourek (Fizzle Like a Flood), guitarist Mike
Friedman and bassist bassist Bob Carrig. The Movies released a collection
of rootsy Stones-meets-Springsteen tunes called Anonymous American
in early 2002. Whipkey liked the CD's name so much that he'd use
it for his next band. He formed Anonymous American in late 2003,
with Carrig still on bass but adding drummer Wayne Brekke (Five
Story Fall) and guitarist Corey Weber (The Get).
Though still distinctly twangy, Anonymous American's debut, When
the Drummer Counts to Four, took on more of an Americana bar-rock
sheen, capturing the energy of the band's over-the-top live show
highlighted by Whipkey's numerous drum drives.
Now with Lonely Town, Whipkey returns to his solo roots
while moving the band even further toward a pure rock sound. How
does he do both? The EP features three Anonymous American tracks
followed by three Whipkey solo efforts. In fact, it's billed as
"Anonymous American / Matt Whipkey."
Touring schedules drove Whipkey and the band to take the unorthodox
approach. "We didn't plan it this way," Whipkey said.
"We figured we might as well put out a split because I'll be
doing a lot more out-of-town solo stuff. Touring solo as Anonymous
American just didn't seem right."
Though purposely disjointed, the EP holds together remarkably well.
The title track and "Must Have Been You" are electric-guitar
fueled bar rockers proudly bearing their Rolling Stones influence.
CD centerpiece "Happy Endings," with its monster riffs,
Skynrd-style guitar solos and holler-chorus, is easily the best
rock song Whipkey and Co. have ever recorded. What better way to
follow the bombast than with one of Whipkey's gentle heartbreak
ballads? "How Was She Sleeping (Tell Me Sir)" and "Somebody
Call a Cab" are solo only in intent. A handful of backing players
join Whipkey, including old pal Friedman, and local legends Sarah
Benck and Korey Anderson. You'll likely hear CD closer "Darkness
Passes" as part of this year's local United Way campaign. The
enhanced CD even includes the Bozell-produced United Way video for
"Darkness Passes," which features Whipkey and pianist
J. Scott Gaeta.
Whipkey says one of his first goals will be to pay back the $1,500
he put on his credit card to pay for Lonely Town. He should get
a good jump on it thanks to the 20 or so out-of-town gigs he's scheduled
in August and September, including shows in Denver, Chicago, Marysville
Published in The Omaha Reader Sept. 7, 2005.
Copyright © 2005 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.
"I've been doing this since the late
'90s. Playing out of town is the only way you're going to
make anything of yourself, which is silly because most of
the time you're only playing for five people."