So yeah, now every Tom and Dick is doing the two-man fucked lo-fi blues thing. But only one cat can boast purveying such roots wrangling for over seven years — Columbus, Ohio’s own Mr. Don Howland. And before he embarked on this Bassholes cruise, he co-whipped up the Charlie tarred and feathered garagabilly combo, the Gibson Bros., currently the touchstone of choice for those aforementioned Toms and Dicks who manage to land a Harry.

After the fall of the Gibson Bros., Howland nabbed Rich Lillash from the debris, and hoisted this Bassholes thing via distantly-spaced 45’s and three LPs for Cali manic-depressive label, In the Red. Claiming "it became clear that two pussy-whipped individuals in one band is one too many," Howland heave-hoed Lillash and hooked up new skin slapper Bim around ’95. With swing to spare, this brotherman seems to have put some needed zip into the live show.

Each Bassholes release has offered up fine unrefined distillations of Howland’s various likes, from Skip James to disco, the Germs to Bob Dylan, and back. See this here is a renaissance man who has written for the Village Voice, Spin, New York Rocker and had a Bukowski amount of ice cubes hit him in the chin. Used to write for Village Voice, New York Rocker. Did I mention that he’s an inner city middle school teacher and a married father of two? Yup, gets to bed by 10, up by 6. Makes this stuff because he’s got to, I guess. Being the perennial outsider, he doesn’t exactly pimp himself out . So don’t slap yourself if you haven’t heard his wailings before. Howland is just one of those rare folks who digs good songs, lets sounds astound, and generally listens.

Self-described "art fag", he’s never at a loss to stain the "garage rock" purists’ formulas with his inventive bile, never moreso than on this newest batch of tunes, Long Way Blues 1996-1998. Slipped in and out of the Bassholes’ punk-damaged cryptic mid-century country blues pee-ons are odd sound collages, surreal guitar noodlings, haunting little melodies, a hooter even. There’re enough Celine Dions on this rock. Time to face up to the downs. Wade in the swamp. Get to know the black holes. Howland says "it’s a dark dank record." But he’s quite upbeat about one thing he was able to do herein: "I farted six minutes into air."

Howland has retained the invigorating zeal of the 17 year old hearing his first Velvet Underground record, which all belies the real bastard he can be sometimes. But hey, we all have our bad days. At least he and Bim turn his little blasts of rockin’ guitar/drum song bites, peppered with unfamiliar noises and familiar emotions, familiar to anyone who’s been wronged by the opposite sex, grim jobs, back taxes, a conscience. If you haven’t, move on. You’ve already found peace, this record will only fuck it up. — Eric Davidson
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