D​.​E​.​A. Fires

by John Thill

supported by
Conor Curran
Conor Curran thumbnail
Conor Curran One of Thill's weirdest records and one of his best. Favorite track: Informers.


Bridgetown #74
C37 cassette tape
Edition of 100

A veteran of the California and North Carolina DIY scene, John Thill's recorded output over the past decade was crucial to the development of a contemporary form of underground folk music that is immediately relatable to our current generation. A staple of the home-taper underground, Thill's extensive discography features dozens of off-kilter concept albums on seminal labels such as the legendary Shrimper Records (Woods, The Mountain Goats, Amps for Christ, Wckr Spgt), Not Not Fun (as Quem Quaeritis) and Unread Records (Simon Joyner, Charlie McAlister) before touring the USA with Abe Vigoda in 2007 and disappearing into the Napa Valley just a few years later.
John Thill's dark and comic obsession with traffic, smog, strip malls, pop radio, subcultures and other daily trivialities are crucial ingredients to his dystopian, comedic tales about painfully real characters that have invaded his life ranging from cholos, mall goths, speed freaks, sluts and middle class white guys who hate their jobs. Figments of his imagination and true reality blur together within the outlandishly plausible settings he conjures such as a post-apocalyptic Los Angeles when gasoline supplies are dried up, and these characters become all too real within the context of his poetic narratives.

D.E.A. Fires is Thill's first full-length written since his departure from Southern California, and continues his legacy of blending high-brow concept art with bad ideas that have been taken just far enough to still be flawlessly executed. The 10 song album satirizes the laidback culture of illicit farmers in Northern California, ponchos as a fashion statement, psychedelic mysticism and hippie lifestyle with lyrical aplomb. In classic Thill form, his exuberant vocals hush, bellow and snarl over graceful chords and subtle ringing harmonics strummed from an abused classical guitar.


released May 27, 2012



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Track Name: Indian Blanket
The Indian blanket is cursed, I know
But we sold it on the side of the road
And the DEA Fires sing a song of dread
All across the vacant homestead.
Track Name: Solar Hits
The rainbow arcs into a ditch of nettle
As the van burns in the fern lined meadow
And the solar hits
Make the world shift
Like those girls in peasant dresses
as the smoke lifts

And the earth brings us these new gifts
As you ask, will she swallow, will she spit?

orah orahay
Oh lady of the changing shapes
Help me remember how to dance in place
Track Name: Ominous Sounds
In a place that smells like mildew where the bud
will get you high
Unfocused and rattled until the sun comes back
in July
When he starts thinking about quitting or
enrolling at DeVry
Been sleeping with a sorceress who's also a lesbian
And every bout of laughter
is also filled with lies

And the dogs all wander aimless beyond the tripwire

And now magic can't dispel the rumors
that a raid is coming down
And dawn is bowing out behind
the mist and the cloud

The bus is parked out in the dark beyond the
ominous sounds
The fire dims but the joint still makes its way
There's a cloverleaf pinned up to the tent that
someone had found
But even so the ground begins to shudder with those
ominous Sounds
Track Name: Poncho And Moonlight
The moonlight was cast across the poncho
As he stood on the ridge to hear the sirens echo

With the figure he cut
I kept my mouth shut
And let the short lived beauty sink in

All the best laid plans
Where you hide your camp
They'll always find you in the end

She thought of harbor light
And barroom fights
And the silence deep within the grow
Then she thought about how the handcuffs felt cold

Midnight firelight
Midnight firelight
I'm gonna watch it burn
I'm gonna feel the light
Track Name: D.E.A. Fires
She spent some time hand in hand with the covens of the damned
Adrift on the coast like a splintered tree limb
And the DEA fires they burn bright all across the startled midnight
She ducked beneath the mesh when the helicopters threshes
The leaves and whipped her dreads across her neck
And her neck it smells like poplar stands
And the dirt that's smeared across her hands

We watched the fog climb like hands or a vine
Across the mountain up into her eyes
She says I can't quite seem to clear my head
Since the sun's been gone, since the hear has fled

And the trash by the side of the road
Looks like someone I know
The trash by the side of the road
It looks like a man I know
Track Name: Informers
Hemp jewelry chafes the skin
But not to wear it is a sin
Windham Hill Records and the mushrooms I took
Leave my body in the room
Space echoes past lives and who we are
George Winston piano chords
Blue water
Blue water
Blue water
Prairie hues
Frozen in some solemn movie mood

The informers laughed
Beyond the eyes of flame
Out where the darkness will not
Speak their names

At the high school reunion between cocktails
They asked what became of you
She went behind the waterfall
Where nothing troubles you at all
The streetlamps through the evening smog
Or the ribbon of light behind the soundwall
They're gone

The informers laughed
Beyond the eyes of flame
Out where the darkness will not
Speak their names

And we warmed our hands on the DEA fires
Track Name: The Grow
How the mountains glow
At the foot of the grow
Track Name: Pilgrims
Cream stucco and the gilt frames
Like a choking hand
A new name and trust fund check
Peeling out from the drive
With a baja and a rusted bus
Headed up the five

When dawn breaks across the redwood stump
His hand shields him from the light
A sleeping bag and a flashlight
When they ring the bells at harvest time
Mother earth nurture nature child
Holds him through the night
The pruning shears and the translucent deer
Graze in the meadow light
Track Name: Weeds
Cashew drives in with a warning
Says he's seen men following him
Disguised as ravens on wing

Karen too
brings ominous tidings
Of tumult and the great cycles end

And whispers and words
Of the cartels in the woods
Willing to quietly
bury all

And their are other deals yet to pay down
And if I break or cry they'll say
It's come due

The boss' dreads
Will lash like angry whips
Strike down excuses from your lips

Tied up in the back of the truck
I find myself sick
With love

For the pine dotted hills
And the dryland scrub
The weeds the grow in the gullies
Or down the fenceline
Oh and we know that
The secret of success lies
Well off the main road
Where you stray over the ridgeline

The gravestones where
the brambles overgrow

In a vale that feels

In silence with
Guns held held like scepters

They call me pussy push me
Into the weeds

The only sound is the quiet warm country
And the bird's full and gentle tone

The weeds grow on
With the generators song