Archive for February 2011
So I have a friend named Ed Hines. We used to work together. When I saw this record, I figured I should see what he would sound like if he were a band.
Well, “Space Man” sounds like Morrissey, except the lyrics aren’t depressing. In fact, they are downright happy. “Song 1400″ is a love song that would make Kepi Ghoulie blush. The organ completes it.
“Your Daddy” reminds me of the Steve Martin album I have. Actually, most of the tracks do. “Bloodstream” is weird enough that an act like Corpus Callosum could have done it.
“Cindy Said” is the last track. Like the other tracks, it is very simple, musically, with offbeat lyrics. It’s hard to take the band seriously because they don’t take themselves seriously. But I will dust off a chestnut I used when I reviewed Convalescent Surprise’s EP: You can really taste the goat.
The single itself? Sure. It sounds like someone gave Blondie’s “Dreaming” a 30-year update. Musically, it makes me think of the chorus of Smashing Pumpkins’ “Tonight.” There’s a lot of stuff going on all at once. The second track is the Grouplove Remix, and it’s a lot better if you’re into synths. Very peppy and upbeat. It is what you expect from a remix, except the track itself is not longer. (Actually it is 19 seconds shorter.)
The last track is a live version of “Popinjay.” It’s fine.
This is how Portland, Oregon, does country. (Admittedly, it would be fun to see how Portland, Maine, does country, as well.) The comparisons to Virginian-era Neko Case are too easy to make, so I’ll let you do that.
“Devil” is like a checklist for this sort of thing. Harmonica? Check. Sing about a dog? Check. Female backing vocals, especially on the chorus? Check. The beat reminds me of the Charlie Daniels Band’s “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.”
“Mexico” has the vocals mixed high, but my expectations of a cohesive story were dashed early on. Still, it rooty-toots with the best of ‘em. Square dancing is good for the core if you do it right. “Bruised by Tears” is a good time song for good time guys and gals.
“Sawdust” is a lot of fun as well. The songs don’t all sound the same, but they definitely all have the same vibe. You aren’t in store for any big surprises, and that just might be fine.
Little bits of everything. You may know some of these songs. “Only Tongue Can Tell” inspired the Muffs, melodywise, when they wrote “Sad Tomorrow.” But crack open a Zima and enjoy some of these power pop classics.
“The Best Man’s Fall” has beautiful backing harmony. “Hayfever” doesn’t make me sneeze. The chorus, however, is full of hooks, just like many of their piercing-laced fans back in the proverbial day.
For a snapshot of the mid-’90s sound, look no further than “The Genius I Was.” “Welcome Back” is a bit more upbeat and sounds like a peppier Chris Isaak song. (They do exist, promise.)
If a slower ballad is what you’re looking for, “Weightlifting” is half Gin Blossoms, half Better Than Ezra. “I Wish You’d Met Her” has a more modern feel, and if you do like me and put the album on repeat, you get quite a contrast when it loops back to “Only Tongue Can Tell” again. But the common thread among all the tracks is a smooth sound that makes you happy to be alive. Unless you’re a zombie.
I thought I was keeping up on Old 97′s, but they’ve done a ton of shit that I haven’t heard. I’m old, but I’m not 97. At any rate, their sound currently resides in the slow Social Distortion genre. “The Grand Theatre” would have been a hit in 1997, I am sure, and that’s the last number-based joke I will make.
“The Magician” is a good track title considering the name of the album. There are bits of Stray Cats running around in this number. Why does anyone under 30 like this band again?
For those who are into this new brand of alt-country, the obligatory track is clearly “Let the Whiskey Take the Reins.” There is also “You Smoke Too Much.” Who am I to argue?
“Please Hold On While the Train Is Moving” sounds like a clever title, but really it’s just a warmed over John Cougar Mellencamp attempt. So be it.
You could do a lot worse. I know you love Old 97′s so go ahead and love them.