Greg Ashley is best known as the leader of the Texas cum Oakland psych outfit The Gris Gris, but he’s also spent time in other bands, including the brash punkers The Strate-Coats and acid-drenched folkists The Mirrors, while releasing a number of noteworthy solo albums along the way. With his new album, Another Generation of Slaves, Ashley dives deeper into his Leonard Cohen obsession, one that was sparked by his 2013 note-by-note rendition of Cohen’s hated masterpiece, Death of a Ladies Man.
Here, like Cohen and fellow curmudgeon, Lou Reed, Ashley has painted a vivid after hours universe of seedy but lovable characters. They mean no harm, but the bottle has intervened, and the jazz band tucked in the corner is playing for nickels and whatever slugs remain in the bottle accidentally left on the piano. There is an energy that carries over the album’s entirety as it swings from the opening declaration of innocence, “East Texas Plain”, to the irrational romantic anger of “Awkward Affections” (featuring what may be the catchiest suicidal chorus ever ), and finally, the sad ode, “Prisoner #1131267”, to a buddy who stares from jail cell bars as the narrator laments the next time they shall meet. It’s with this set of anecdotes that Ashley continues to prove he is a modern day troubadour. His bare bones production, coupled with sparse lyrics and an ad hoc group of jazz musicians, places Another Generation of Slaves firmly at the top in his flawless library of work. words / d norsen