Mile Markers is just what the name says: a set of signs posted to guide the way home. . . or maybe point out the direction that has home in the rear view mirror.
Set in the West, it rambles and wanders and aims the steering wheel out at the endless horizon. A halfways unfolded road map, it passes through Austin and Tucson and San Ysidro and Los Angeles, through the badlands of both South Dakota and New Mexico, from Oklahoma and the windy Panhandle country around Abilene all the way to Bakersfield and the San Joaquin Valley.
But Mile Markers is a spiritual voyage as much as a mere travelogue, a set of tales that turns into a single song of journeying forth.
It’s like a Western, in a way. It’s "The Searchers," or "Ride the High Country," or" High Plains Drifter." Or even"Two-Lane Blacktop" or "The Getaway," because it’s set in a contemporary West divided by white lines and asphalt, and settled by truckstops and parking lots. It’s a landscape of big skies and long roads and endless Mile Markers flying by at the edge of your vision. And like every true Western ever, contemporary or not, it’s a story of drifting and settling, of setting down roots and then having them torn up again, of learning that you don’t dare settle down when you’re just going to be forced to hit the road again.
For Mark Stuart and the Bastard Sons, the last ten years has been a blur of miles and markers. BSOJC has played more shows most years than most bands do in their entire careers, and they’ve done it the hard way, piling their own gear into their own van, and then heading off into a dark night that’s just a couple of hours away from day. A lot of indie bands have done a lot of this, but not many have made the long haul across an entire decade. And amidst that grueling schedule, Stewart has managed to keep writing, delivering two previous records, Walk Alone and Distance Between, that built a hardcore fanbase for the band and yet achieved a critical recognition that most singer-songwriters would slit their left wrist to gain. It was an enviable position, as long as you didn’t have to do all the work that went with it.