Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! It's time for another edition of Sounds From The Cave. Today we're going to talk about a band from Arizona called Giant Sand. Now, I know what you're thinking: nothing good has ever come out of Arizona. And I can understand how you feel- the state is famous for its anti-immigration laws, crazed gunmen, and leather-skinned senior citizens, not for any kind of music scene. But there are a few notable exceptions- bands such as the Meat Puppets, Calexico, and Giant Sand, all of whom create music that is distinctly southwestern in style. It's probably no accident that these bands also tend to be kind of loopy: living in 110 degree heat probably fries the brain a little, and these bands are a wonderful example of this.
Giant Sand has been around forever. They're still making music, but for me their peak was way back in the 80's. During that decade, they put out several albums full of twangy, Neil Young-ish desert rock, and they were much more straightforward and consistent than they are now. Their leader, Howe Gelb, has been a guitar hero of mine ever since I first heard the band; he could play everything from folky acoustic picking to spontaneous noise freakout, sometimes within the space of a single song. And he wrote some great tunes, too.
A good place to start with this band is Giant Sandwich, which is a compilation of highlights and outtakes from their 80's albums. It's good enough to make you forget about all the negative things in Arizona, at least for a moment. Check out the soundclip below: