The world is filled with competent songwriters, but how many of them know the difference between deductive and inductive reasoning? With his song “Greyhound Bus,” Charlie Roadman -leader of the Austin/San Antonio ensemble F For Fake — proves that his command of logic is every bit as sure as his serpentine songcraft.
Roadman notes that not all lunatics ride the bus and not all barroom drunks are violent, but when a lunatic needs transportation he’ll usually opt for the bus and when someone gets violent at a bar, it’s probably because they’re loaded. Ultimately, he applies this line of thinking to politics: “Not everyone who votes Republican is a fascist/But when a fascist votes, it’s for them/And even if you’re not mean-spirited to any degree/you might as well be.”
With F For Fake’s eponymously titled debut CD, Roadman consistently follows the songwriting road less taken. He gives Thucydides a backbeat with the Peloponnesian War saga “Life in the Spartan Army,” and with “Rome” he concocts a travelogue that finds “basement disco Czechs” in Prague burning up the same dance floor once favored by Hitler’s Gestapo. It’s fitting that when he devotes a song to auto racing (“Nascar”), he gives it a grindingly slow beat.
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F FOR FAKE
Sat, Dec 3
2301 S. Presa
Roadman’s cleverness wouldn’t mean much if his music was nondescript, but he gives his tunes the kind of vivid, cinematic color you’d expect from someone who named his band after an Orson Welles film. With help from Buttercup’s rhythm section and a large cast of expert players, F For Fake features pedal-steel, accordion, and banjo bumping up against each other in an artsy mix that’s always smart but never coldly cerebral. •