The Commercial Appeal - Go Memphis - - Music -

He’s been de­scribed by crit­ics as “hy­per­ac­tive,” “prolific to a fault,” and even a “pro­fes­sional freak” but singer-song­writer John Wes­ley Cole­man can’t help him­self. With three al­bums out in the last 11 months and a fourth in the can, he’s got an abun­dance of ideas and songs.

“I’m prob­a­bly coming to a point where I need to take a break and let all th­ese songs breathe for a while,” says Cole­man. “But then at the same time I think, ‘Nah, man. I can’t write a song and just keep play­ing it. I gotta write an­other song and an­other song and an­other song.’ I guess I have song­writ­ing ADD”

On Sun­day, the Dal­las-area na­tive and long­time Austin res­i­dent will con­jure up some of those tunes dur­ing a con­cert at the Hi-Tone Café. Play­ing his first solo gigs out­side of Texas in over a year, he and his back­ing band will be tak­ing the mid­dle slot on a three-act bill, along­side fel­low Goner la­bel artists Quin­tron & Miss Pussy­cat and Sharp Bal­loons.

Cole­man has had an es­pe­cially busy 2012, be­gin­ning with the re­lease of Dirty Fin­ger­nails, the fifth al­bum by his beloved but ever-com­bustible garage band, The Golden Boys. The group, which has Sun­day, 9 p.m. at the Hi-Tone Café, 1913 Poplar. Tick­ets $12. To pur­chase or for more in­for­ma­tion, go to hi­tone­mem­phis.com or call 901-278-8663. been op­er­at­ing in fits and starts for over a decade, has evinced a kind of messy bril­liance dur­ing a ca­reer marked by as much tur­moil as great mu­sic.

“It’s spo­radic for sure,” says Cole­man of the band’s sched­ule. “We did a lit­tle bit of tour­ing for the last record. The record ac­tu­ally sold a lot; it just got re­pressed. It’s the first time we ac­tu­ally saw a dol­lar from a record that we made, which is cool. But we also fight a lot and ev­ery­body’s really busy with their own things. That’s why I’m al­ways do­ing solo stuff. When The Golden Boys aren’t do­ing any­thing I like to keep work­ing.”

To wit, Cole­man has also re­leased a pair of solo records in 2012. The first, Night­mare on Silly Street, was an ex­per­i­men­tal plat­ter of sorts that saw his de­mos remixed and re­worked by Austin mul­ti­me­dia artist Mor­gan Coy, and re­leased on his Mono­fonus Press la­bel.

But Cole­man’s most sat­is­fy­ing ef­fort is his sec­ond solo al­bum for the Mem­phis-based Goner la­bel, The Last Don­key Show. Fol­low­ing up 2010’s Bad Lady Goes to Jail, the disc touches on his many muses, mov­ing be­tween fuzzed-out pop, gritty psych and hard­scrab­ble coun­try with an easy charm.

Pro­duced by Greg Ash­ley — him­self a Texas na­tive, now set­tled in North­ern Cal­i­for­nia — the disc was recorded on ana­log tape dur­ing a cou­ple sets of ses­sions in Oak­land and Austin. “I slept at his stu­dio for about five or six nights and recorded ev­ery day with him and var­i­ous peo­ple,” says Cole­man. “Then we flew Greg in, and set up in a house out­side Austin in the coun­try, with all th­ese acres of land in the mid­dle of nowhere, and just par­tied and recorded.”

Cole­man’s skewed brand of pop and Austin ad­dress have meant plenty of com­par­isons to the city’s iconic and psy­cho­log­i­cally dam­aged icons: Roky Erick­son and Daniel John­ston. Though he ad­mires both artists, Cole­man’s sound doesn’t quite fit

along­side theirs. “Those guys are mon­ster song­writ­ers. Like I’ll lis­ten to some Roky Erick­son and try and take that mind­set and try to write that kind of song, but I can’t do it. I can’t even cover Roky Erick­son. Same with Daniel John­ston.”

In truth, Cole­man’s in­flu­ences are all over the map. A vo­ra­cious con­sumer of mu­sic, at the moment his stereo is ro­tat­ing early Iron Maiden, Royal Trux records from the ’ 90s, along with old-school coun­try LPs. “As far as my spe­cific in­spi­ra­tions, I find (it) more in my in­ter­ac­tions in the city, with my friends,” he says. “I don’t really have a method to what I do. I’m al­ways writ­ing. If some­one wants to col­lab­o­rate I’ll take what I’m work­ing on and fit it to the vibe of that par­tic­u­lar project. Or most times a theme will pop up in my head and I’ll go on that for a while un­til I’m burned out — but by then I usu­ally have enough songs for an­other record.”

True to form, Cole­man has an­other as yet-un­re­leased LP al­ready in the can. This time he worked with pro­ducer Louie Lino (Nada Surf, matt pond PA) an Austin trans­plant from New York City. “He has a stu­dio here and I’ve been go­ing there off and on since Fe­bru­ary,” says Cole­man. “I’ve got 11 tracks, a full length done and mixed.

“It’s all over the place — one song sounds to­tally punk, one sounds like a hip­pie jam. It’s dif­fer­ent.” Cole­man adds that he’s not quite sure when or on what la­bel the al­bum will ap­pear.

With his cre­ativ­ity re­fus­ing to abate — he’s also a some­time vis­ual artist, il­lus­tra­tor, poet, stand-up co­me­dian and screen­writer — it looks like there will be even more John Wes­ley Cole­man songs for the world to hear.

“In fair­ness, my songs are pretty short,” he says, laugh­ing. “So if I have


The prolific John Wes­ley Cole­man has re­leased three al­bums in the last year. “I guess I have song­writ­ing ADD,” he says.

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