AmericanA to Z: Acetone

I was drawn to Acetone because they were on Vernon Yard Recordings alongside Low, on whom I had a major musical crush. It’s always a risky business but in pre-internet days you had to take a punt, and I did. It turned out that they were a kind of all male Mazzy Star or a cross between Spaceman 3 and Kris Kristofferson. They played a slowcore version of Americana over the span of 5 LP’s and one EP, before calling it quits in 2001 when bass player Ritchie Lee killed himself.

Number of tracks in the library: 18. I did have most of their records but only If Only You Knew and I Guess I Would have survived the leap from plastic to ether. If Only You Knew has a lovely languid sound, iminimal and quiet; on a lot of songs they start in recumbent position and then relax from there. The bass plays an important part in their music, often taking the lead through the songs, snaking a path that the guitars follow. The records did vary in texture but they stuck to pretty much the same template throughout their existence.

Key ReleaseI Guess I Would. Acetone were one of the first alternative rock bands that started to circle back to American Roots music and this 7 track covers EP takes on the Flying Burrito Brothers Juanita, John Prine’s The Late John Garfield Blues as well as The Fugs’ How Sweet I Roamed and the aforementioned Kris Kristofferson whose Border Lord gets an electrifying eleven minutes. It’s all rendered through their relaxed aesthetic – the songs are very much made into Acetone songs. There aren’t a whole heap of videos around but All You Know below is as good an example of their sound as you’ll find.

Author: David Cowling

Punk rock, Go-Betweens, REM, Replacments, Husker Du, Minutemen, Will Oldham, Smog, Whiskeytown, Ass Ponys but probably most of all Howe Gelb, led me on this journey.

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