If you ever find yourself hunched over a shot of whiskey in the dimly-lit amber melancholy of a barroom, surrounded by upturned chairs and an unsociable bartender, then this is your theme music.  This San Francisco-based band (1983-1995) flew under the radar of mainstream radio, but they've gathered an underground appreciation as one of the greatest American bands.  Lead singer Mark Eitzel has been called a lyrical Steinbeck by critics and it's easy to see why: the man's a genius with the written word.

Their style ranged from folksy rock to alt-country to slick alternative pop, with Eitzel's ragged and warbling croon and powerful lyrics transforming their music into an exquisite and complex soul-search through backlit streets and crooked trails.  Like coffee and whiskey, American Music Club is an acquired taste; you'll thank yourself later.  Eiztel himself was tormented with alcoholism and other unfathomable personal demons, and the band's live concerts often transformed into compelling and bizarre sequences as he broke down onstage.

Although Eitzel's personal darkness was the band's heart, they were capable of expressing bouyant playfulness, which was evident in most of their work.  The band never registered here in the United States but has developed a cult following in Europe, and Eitzel has gone on to do solo work--even teaming with R.E.M.'s Peter Buck, who produced his most recent album.

If you try to grab some of their songs, I recommend picking up their live stuff if you can.

Sublime Lyric of The Month:

Tell my why you don't sleep anymore
Tell me what you sit up all night waiting for
Are you waiting for loneliness to paralyze?
Are you waiting for sister midnight to anesthetize?
                                                ~ "Firefly"


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