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Lee Bains & The Glory Fires Light Up Mississippi Studios In Portland

A place called Mississippi Studios would seem to be the perfect setting for Birmingham, Alabama native Lee Bains III to preach his particular brand of Southern Gospel, one filled with wailing electric guitars and ruminations on what “The South” is, once was and what it can be. Nevermind that this Mississippi is in Portland, Oregon, when Bains and the Glory Fires start to preach, folks start to listen.

What The South actually is vs. what much of the rest of the country (and the world) imagines it to be is at the very heart of Bains’ excellent new release on Sub Pop, Dereconstructed. The record finds Bains contextualizing what being a Southerner truly means in this day and age: from the frustrations that come along with the weight of a past he had nothing to do with (and is obviously vehemently against), to the false preconceptions the world has of the modern South, to ruminations on whether it’s wiser to seek out greener, “more creative” pastures or to stay home and help “improve” where you’re from. It’s literate, heavy stuff, and something that forward-thinking, progressive Southerners (such as myself) have had floating around their heads most of their lives while we watched our native region portrayed as being filled with cartoon-ish rubes whose principle concerns are the consumption of high fructose corn syrup and the spread of ignorance.

Derecontructed also intrigues because these issues aren’t tackled via contemplative folk numbers where Bains’ meditations can be heard and studied front and center, but instead are served over a bed of positively furious rock n’ roll. Bains got his start in the exceptionally raucous Tuscaloosa, AL band The Dexateens, and The Glory Fires retain much of that band’s rowdy, shit-kickin’ ethos. Bains and fellow guitarist Eric Wallace grew up together and certainly play like it. The screeching fury they play with never really lets up, which is something considering the intertwined intensity they bring to each song. At one point Wallace even got up on Bain’s back and they shuffled around the floor for awhile, guitars raging the entire time.

Adam and Blake Williamson make up the Glory Fires’ rhythm section keep the low end going with an intensity that’s akin to a midnight train flying towards Georgia on a nearly silent summer night. For such a wild and loose sound, the band is deceptively tight, something that comes from playing such an intensely scheduled tour (see below).

There are obviously comparisons to the Drive-By Truckers (whose current bassist played in The Dexateens), another Georgia-via-Alabama band that has had tremendous success pondering the same issues Bains does on Dereconstructed, and one can certainly see Bains having a career arc similar to a Jason Isbell, Patterson Hood and/or a Mike Cooley. Time will tell if the Glory Fires can reach such great heights, but if Dereconstructed and their positively blistering live show are any indication, I wouldn’t count these boys out y’all.

(All photos: Caitlin Webb Photography)

Lee Bains & The Glory Fires 2014 tour dates:
Wednesday, June 25 – Dallas, TX – Three Links*
Thursday, June 26 – San Antonio, TX – The Limelight*
Friday, June 27 – Austin, TX – Red 7*
Saturday, June 28 – Houston, TX – Fitzgerald’s*
Sunday, June 29 – New Orleans, LA – One Eyed Jack’s*
Thursday, July 10 – Nashville, TN – The Basement
Friday, July 11 – Louisville, KY – Zanzabar
Saturday, July 12 – Fort Wayne, IN – The Brass Rail
Sunday, July 13 – Bloomington, IN – The Bishop
Monday, July 14 – Cincinnati, OH – MOTR Pub
Tuesday, July 15 – Pittsburgh, PA – The Smiling Moose
Wednesday, July 16 – Boston, MA – Great Scott
Friday, July 18 – New York, NY – Mercury Lounge
Saturday, July 19 – Asbury Park, NJ – Asbury Lanes
Sunday, July 20 – Philadelphia, PA – Ortlieb’s Lounge
Monday, July 21 – Washington, DC – DC9
Tuesday, July 22 – Richmond, VA – Strange Matter
Thursday, July 24 – Charlotte, NC – The Milestone
Friday, July 25 – Raleigh, NC – King’s
Saturday, July 26 – Macon, GA – Bragg Jam
Friday, August 1- Katowice, POLAND – OFF Festival
Saturday, August 2 – Ostersund, SWEDEN – Storsjoyran
Sunday, August 3 – Trondheim, NORWAY – Blaest
Monday, August 4 – Fåvang, NORWAY – Tromsvang
Tuesday, August 5 – Lillestrøm, NORWAY – MusikkByen
Wednesday, August 6 – Oslo, NORWAY – Crossroads
Thursday, August 7 – Halden, NORWAY – Halden Mikrobryggeri
Friday, August 8 – Goteborg, SWEDEN – Way Out West
Saturday, August 9 – Avesta, SWEDEN – Bjurfors Hotel
Sunday, August 10 – Stockholm, SWEDEN – Akkurat
Tuesday, September 2 – Oxford, MS – Proud Larry’s
Wednesday, September 3 – St. Louis, MO – Off Broadway
Thursday, September 4 – Chicago, IL – Empty Bottle
Friday, September 5 – Normal, IL – Firehouse
Saturday, September 6 – St. Paul, MN – Turf Club
Sunday, September 7 – Madison, WI – Yum Yum Fest
Saturday, September 13 – Royal Oak, MI – Royal Oak Theatre
Sunday, September 14 – Urbana, IL – The Canopy Club
Friday, September 19 – Memphis, TN – Minglewood Hall
* – w/ Diarrhea Planet