Last year while attending the annual Chuckfest in downtown Lake Charles, I was wandering around with my daughter, visiting with friends, watching bands, checking out art, and sampling foods and craft beers.
We were heading to the car, when we passed the Ryan Street stage. There was a band in mid-set that really grabbed my full attention. I told my then 13 year old daughter to get comfortable, we were not leaving just yet. The band onstage turned out to be Justin Martindale and the Backstabbbers. Justin and I had met before, via our small local music scene, but this was the first time I had ever seen him uncaged, in his natural habitat. I don’t think I spoke, or blinked for two entire songs.
I was taking it all in. For those of you who have never heard them before, Justin is a damn fine guitar player / singer / songwriter / producer. His music is wound from the same thread of the likes of Tom Petty, Ryan Adams and David Crowder. Justin has just released his second album titled “Heartaches and Rattlesnakes”. It is available only on digital format. As an old school audio junky, I suppose this is my only real complaint about this album. I would love to slap this on my turntable and put the needle down on this record at my abode.
Justin has come up with a great idea as an option. At his live shows, for a mere $5, you can purchase a sticker with the coiled rattlesnake album cover art. This comes with a digital download of the album. The songs on Heartaches and Rattlesnakes are very well written, and the production is crisp and clean. Justin has a great sense of the “elusive” chorus hook. It should be a crime that the song “If I Could” is not a radio hit. The guitar solo on that track sounds a bit like Lindsey Buckingham,which is not a simple task to pull off. “My Mothers House” has a downhome message. “I Will Remember You” is a stark, stripped down song that really stands out.
There is not a single bad apple on this tree. There is a complex simplicity in Justin’s songwriting. This guy fully grasps his musical footprint and stands firmly on his own earthy ground, tapping into a well that his been dry in music for decades…simple, heartfelt, honest songs.
This album can be found on most digital media forms. I found it on YouTube. I suggest you do yourself a favor and take the time to discover this rare local gem. Saturday, October 21st at 6 P.M. I plan to tell my daughter to get comfortable again. Justin Martindale and the Backstabbers will take the stage again at this years Chuckfest. Come and see for yourself what an actual breath of fresh air feels, looks, and sounds like.