Chuck Ragan / Nagel - Snapshot [7inch] (Cover Artwork)

Chuck Ragan / Nagel

Snapshot [7inch] (2008)

Ten Four Records

Another six months or so, and another 7" from Chuck Ragan, who is proving to be just as prolific as a solo artist as he was in his former band.

Ragan has always seemed to perform particularly well when working in a collaborative environment; he and Hot Water Music partner Chris Wollard wrote some of the best post-rock and punk ever during their fifteen-odd years together. He recently released an entire LP of songs recorded with another great solo artist, Austin Lucas, that steps a bit outside the comfort zone of his recent solo material. His own solo studio LP also featured a song from a previous band he was in with Wollard, the twisted back-porch country act Rumbleseat.

This latest 7" single was recorded with Nagel, the frontman for the German punk rock band Muff Potter (with whom Ragan already released a split 7" where they covered each others songs). The A-side relegates Nagel to harmonies and acoustic second guitar, working some fantastic harmonies. "No Rubber-Tired Vehicles Beyond This Point" is a beautifully conflicted song about the reflection that happens when you're stuck in a situation, be it a relationship or just the snow.

The B-side, "Go Breathe," is a propulsive acoustic number that brings in some electric lead guitar and lets a bit more of Nagel's voice come through, providing a bit of a harder edge (and I use that in a very relative way).

If those descriptions seem a little sparse there's good reason, because if you've heard any of Ragan's post-HWM solo material than this release won't catch you off guard in any way. Composed primarily of Ragan's rhythmic acoustic strumming, the lyrics take center stage, punctuated by terrific vocal harmonies. While it lacks the instrumental flourishes of his studio LP Feast or Famine, the sparseness of these songs definitely helps enhance the mood and tension of the compositions.

With only two songs to the album, there really isn't much more to say. But with the low cost of mp3s or a physical copy I'd suggest there's little reason not to purchase this little slice of heaven.