Back in the heyday of Jon Spencer's Blues Explosion, Judah Bauer typified the white-boy guitar-honcho ideal. The perfect foil to Jon's sweaty-wolfman-sexgod thing, Bauer was youthful and dashing. He had great hair, a pricey drug habit, and the ability to dodge flying panties in a single bound.
Funny, then, that after the JSBX growled itself into irrelevance, Bauer is growing out of Spencer's formidable shadow with his own neo-blues project, 20 Miles. Founded with Bauer's brother Donovan, the outfit made a scrappy eponymous debut that was a lightweight document of basement blues jams. But lately, Bauer seems to be taking it a lot more seriously. The band's latest, Life Doesn't Rhyme, eschews the I-got-the-bluesisms for moody rockers that have more in common with solo Frank Black than any of the nauseatingly well-trodden Delta blues bullshit. Recorded at London's fashionable analog HQ, Toe Rag Studios (the White Stripes, the Kills), the album enlists Bauer's best backing cast, with drummer Joe Plummer (Black Heart Procession) and bassist Paul Dugan (the Big Lazy). And with Spencer seeming to be permanently on the back burner, Bauer is a sidekick no more. He may finally start casting his own shadows.
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