Oakland, California-based Americana/country/R&B outfit Idiot Grins release the music video, “Satan’s Jeweled Crown,” their cover of the Louvin Brothers song, a track from Idiot Grins’ album, Thoughts & Prayers, a song-for-song release of the Louvin Brothers’ 1959 album, Satan Is Real.
Guitarist Randy Strauss shares, “This all started back in 2017 when the band went to Nashville to master our last album, ‘State of Health.’ At the Country Music Hall of Fame gift shop, I bought a brand-new vinyl copy of ‘Satan is Real’ by the Louvin Brothers, one of my favorite albums. This is a 1959 classic that has some of the most beautiful country gospel ever recorded, together with one of the most interesting homemade album-covers ever.”
He goes on to add, “During these hyper-polarized times, it is pretty clear to me that I would not have very much in common with the Louvin Brothers of the 1940s or 1950’s or much of their audience. Despite this, there is something about the sincerity and earthiness of their music that cuts past all of that and reaches into my soul. I don’t believe we should ignore the painful lessons of our history while we strive for a more hopeful future. I think music is part of that history.”
The video, directed by Elie M. Khadra, juxtaposes the immoderation of techno-capitalism against the calm serenity produced by salvation.
Talking about the video, Khandra says, “On a personal level, the creative freedom that Randy Strauss and the Idiot Grins granted me is the dream of every filmmaker. After many conversations together, they let me come up with the concept and execute something more elaborate than initially expected, and I’m so grateful for their trust. I have to shout out and pay respect to the whole creative team who also invested their talents into this project, with each individual bringing their own touch to the end result.”
Made up of Mike Conner (piano, organ), Evan Eustis (bass, mandolin, vocals), John Hansen (vocals), Michael Melgoza (drums), and Randy Strauss (guitars), Idiot Grins released their first album, Quarry, in 2012, followed by Big Man, State of Health, and Thoughts & Prayers.
“Satan’s Jeweled Crown” opens on ringing church bells, followed by gleaming country-flavored guitars topped by gospel-laced vocals, slightly twangy and deliciously inflected. The roots music feel and flow of the tune is at once unpretentious yet brimming with authentic savors.
The video begins with a stylized facsimile of The Last Supper, where a figure wearing a corporate suit and tie oversees a group of shopping mall mannequins holding smartphones. Satan enters, encouraging extravagance, uninhibited consumption of material goods, and even gun violence as the band sings of the peace of redemption.
With “Satan’s Jeweled Crown,” Idiot Grins deliver tasty old-time gospel aromas, along with modern visuals depicting the current status quo.