This afternoon, as I was driving from the coffee shop back to my regular nine to fiver, Backyard Tire Fire’s “Vagabonds and Hooligans” was on the soundsystem, and my mind was wandering. Maybe it was being back at work after a four day weekend, or it could have been the impending snow storm and the inevitable two hour commute home, or nothing more than the lingering images in the back of my head of the crumbling infra-structure or our hard luck town, as we had long ago hedged our future on shiny new things like museums and sports stadiums, but I could hardly think of a more appropriate band or a more appropriate song for the moment.

Roots rock has long been a staple of the down trodden, working man, and like it or it, Cleveland is a down trodden working man kind of town. We are the unshaven man at the end of the bar, with a shot and a cheap domestic, and dreams in his mind of better times. As Ed Anderson, of Backyard Tire Fire, talks of “Vagabonds and hooligans rattlin’ at the door/At a house that burns on a hill inside my head,” over a slight, fractured melody, he’s more than one specific man, but the Midwestern everyman, whose only cure to every day is escapism. When the chorus comes around, and Anderson advises, “Let everything go this minute/Leave all your thoughts behind/take everything you know/forget it/you’re running out of time,” I’m more than willing to follow that lead.

MP3: Backyard Tire Fire – Vagabonds and Hooligans

Vagabonds and Hooligans the newest full-length by Backyard Tire Fire is out now on O.I.E Records. The boys have plenty of tour dates lined up, including a big date this Saturday at the Double Door in Chicago with Jay Bennett and Death Ships. Later this month, they’ll be hitting the Midwest on a co-headlining tour with William Elliot Whitmore.

Backyard Tire Fire
O.I.E Records