This is the 16th solo album from eccentric songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Walter Ehresman, late of Austin, Texas but residing permanently in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico since February of 2015. As always, the lyrics are lovingly crafted to strike deep on political and interpersonal matters, but with moments of tongue-in-cheek levity that will make you shoot milk out of your nose.
The music ranges from anti-Trump reggae to surf-ska to electro-pop to a Tom Waits-like blues stomp to idyllic acoustic guitar/sitar interlude to romantic Argentinian downtempo to post-rock piano ballads to spoken word electro-mariachi to ambient remix to a classical cantata en español.
All the album's songs were written and recorded in Mexico, which is a first for Ehresman. It's clear that the place, its people and his experiences there have left an indelible mark on his songwriting (there are even some lyrics sung in Spanish). But the opening track harkens back to his earlier, scorching dissections of American right wing political depredations. According to Ehresman, "I had intended to ignore US politics when I moved down to Mexico, and did pretty good for a while until two diametrically-opposed events took place......the hope of Bernie Sanders, and the joke and then horror of Donald Trump.....I found that I could not remain disengaged from either as an American or a songwriter."
What of the title, "Pinches Topes"? Ehresman laughs, "Topes are these awful, ubiquitous speed bumps that are all over Mexico (even on the highways), and I though that cursing them as the title of my album would give something that everyone here--Mexican and ex-pat--could relate to.......Not to mention that topes make a pretty good metaphor," he says, smiling.
Like all of Ehresman's solo albums, "Pinches Topes" unfolds with a novel's feel of pacing and development. If you like your albums to contain just one genre of music, then this likely isn't the stuff for you. But if you're musically open-minded, and ready to take a journey, then sit down and listen to the album from start to finish and be transported south of the border and down beneath the surface of the human heart, mind and soul.
--solo albums: "Honor in the Swine?" ('89); "In the Path of the Cat Chasers" ('90); "Split Brain Theory" ('91); "The Blue Shoat Special" ('96); the spoken-word "The Rants" ('97); "Handwedge from the Trap" ('99); “Le Cafard“ (’01); "The Feral Rugby Team Must GO!" ('03); "No Unifying Theme" ('04); "March, Scream or Cry" ('07); "The ADG Project" ('07); "Monkey Paw Situation" ('09); “Well…..Let‘s Look at Your Track Record, Shall We?” (’10); “Life Outside the Tent“ (’12); "Blue-Eyed Devils" ('14); and "Pinches Topes" ('16).
--with Snipe Hunt: "We'll Be Right Back!" ('99); "Dirty Ditties and Cover Tunes" ('00); and "I Saw the Future (But the Damn Train Hit Me Just the Same)" ('02).
--with Los Platos: “Oh, No” EP (’08).
--with Delphi Rising: “For Granted” (‘10)
--compilations (various artists):
(with Swine Patrol) “The Austin Cassette Compendium” (‘86)
(solo) "Monkey Boy Sampler" ('01, '05); and "Several Famous Orchestras" ('03).