Low Estate by Sixteen Horsepower


Hometown Heroes was the theme of January’s posts, though I did a poor job of sticking to it. I got the idea for this theme from an LP sleeve by Car Seat Headrest, which has been in the back of my head, and I knew eventually I’d come back with a more complete collection. I do believe I have done it.

The Denver Sound has to be one of the oddest, roughest, and hardest to get into of any geo-tied musical genres. It’s dark, rhythmic, and story focused. One group accredited with its creation is Slim Cessna’s Auto Club. The other is Sixteen Horsepower. Finding the connections between bands has to be how Wikipedia games started, because the answer here was so elusive and the actual linking page doesn’t exist. The Denver Gentlemen are a long-defunct group from the late 80’s that comprised members of both SCAC and Sixteen Horsepower. David Eugene Edwards was born in Colorado and spent time with assorted bands like the Denver Gentlemen. Pascal Humbert found himself involved with Edwards while working in L.A. and the two moved back to Denver along with drummer Jean Yves-Tola. Two guitarists and two albums later Jeffrey-Paul Norlander joined in 1997 just before recording of the groups sophomore album, Low Estate.

Released on A&M Records, Low Estate was well received. With only 13 tracks, it still manages to hit over 50 minutes. This particular album didn’t have any significant impact on the groups image, but has become a crowd favorite in their hometown of Denver. Besides being an overall interesting listen, I would say this is probably the best way to dive right in to the Denver Sound. Material from this album was featured in the 2003 documentary, Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus. Edwards is seen playing Phyllis Ruth in it, as well as performing a cover on the soundtrack.

There are three albums in my collection that have alternative covers, and this is one of them. Honestly, I have mixed feelings on them, but I’d be upset of it had been a bad cover. The 90’s weren’t a time of Vinyl, so smaller bands never really spent time or money pressing their albums. This pressing would come later, presumably from Alternative Tentacles in the later 00’s after the band split up when the label got the rights to the groups works. For a record from 1997, pressed in 2005, it is in great condition. That would mostly be attributed to it being sealed, and that’s a whole thing. Nonetheless, A great addition to a diverse listeners collection.

Correction: This vinyl pressing was made in 2013 by Music On Vinyl and was not released by Alternative Tentacles. Still, for a five year old record, it feels brand new. Also, this was made in the EU. Neat.   

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