Unveiling Butch Bastard’s Dark Ode to Sin City in “Las Vegas Salvation”
Prepare to be transported into the enigmatic world of Butch Bastard, the alter ego of Ian Murray, a Seattle-raised, Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter with deep roots in the music scene, including his time with Sub Pop’s Poor Moon. As the curtains rise on his sophomore album, “Las Vegas Salvation,” a tale of paradoxes and intrigues unfolds.
“Las Vegas Salvation” arrives with a visual counterpart—a music video directed by Mike Immerman for the eponymous title track. This captivating release arrives just in time, two days before Butch Bastard embarks on a tour in support of none other than Father John Misty, setting the stage for an exhilarating journey through sound and vision.
Behind the album’s multifaceted sonic tapestry are notable collaborations that lend depth and resonance. Noteworthy contributors include drummers Mitch Rowland (known for his work with Harry Styles) and Richard Gowen (a force behind Brooks Nielsen’s music). The strings come alive with Laena Myers-Ionita (from FEELS and The Like), while keyboard wizardry is brought to life by Aaron Otheim of Mega Bog. Bill Patton’s pedal steel adds a touch of melancholic allure, and string arrangements by Peter Murray (of Poor Moon and Jean Chalant) provide an added layer of complexity. Remarkably, the majority of the recording and production occurred within the confines of a bedroom studio/nursery that Ian Murray shared with his two-year-old daughter—an intimate setting that juxtaposes creativity and domesticity.
Murray’s candid humour shines through as he recalls, “We shared the room for two and a half years, but she didn’t record anything.” The album, as it turns out, was conceived and nurtured amidst life’s everyday chaos.
“Las Vegas Salvation” ventures into a realm of fascination and critique, inspired by the paradoxes of the infamous city of neon lights and hollow dreams. Murray’s connection to Las Vegas is palpable as he draws parallels between its glitzy exterior and the dark underbelly that feeds on human frailties. A monument to both allure and depravity, the city becomes a metaphor for America—a space where promise and surveillance coexist. Murray’s narrative unfolds like a jigsaw puzzle, portraying a world where victories are elusive and freedom is laced with manipulation.
“I love going there, but to stay beyond 48 hours is nearly impossible,” Murray reflects candidly. “When I come home I feel depressed for a week. But I always go back.” With “Las Vegas Salvation,” Murray captures this bittersweet duality, distilling it into a collection of tracks that dissect the complex emotional cocktail of fascination and melancholy that the city evokes.
In this album, Butch Bastard bottles the essence of Las Vegas, weaving an intricate tale that traverses the realms of light and shadow. The result is a sonic journey that invites listeners to explore the layers of a city that thrives on illusion, all while reflecting on the human experience it mirrors. “Las Vegas Salvation” is a testament to Murray’s artistic prowess—an album that doesn’t merely entertain, but also invites contemplation and self-discovery.