It List: Tuesday
90's Night With Yeah Def (Hailey's)
Oh Lewis/On After Dark/We Are Brothers/No Heroes (Rubber Gloves): Free Week.
Titus Andronicus/Soft Environmental Collapse/Bizzaro Kids (Sons of Herman Hall): What I do with a band like Titus Andronicus? Or is it that I know exactly what to do, since we've been through this so many times before. Their first recordings consisted of pretty passable melodic rock; sloppy and impassioned without sounding too stupid. Casual follow-up listens would reveal, along with the bias-flaring occurrence of their subsequent signing to a larger label, what often occurs with so many bands of this ilk: They started acting more serious, had a "concept" for their new record, and started trying to rewrite some normo rock classic like Music From Big Pink or Rum, Sodomy, And The Lash or The Queen Is Dead, but through the band's own collective modern filter. So many once-exciting bands trade in their youthful flame and eventually settle for trying to make a record that's beyond them, and recording it as a band they are not. So many bands have done this over the years; the once-solid Dr. Dog as a recent example comes to mind, as does the aesthetic arc of Paul Westerberg's entire output and eventual descent into adult contemporary music. In Westerberg's defense, he just kind of peaked early. For some bands, it's better for your career to ditch the rough demo-sounding stuff, as it will maybe even ensure that you are played in dark-wood bars and suburban Irish-inspired pubs for years to come. It doesn't however always hold one's interest the way that those earlier recordings will.
Even more dubious is the band's choice of basing their new record around a Civil War-theme. Yikes. These things are all fine on their own; concept records, pub rock, The Civil War. But mix them altogether and you have a somewhat pretentious mess.
A well-respected venue head I know suggested yesterday, that it would be better to find people that are actually into the specific genre of the shows that are written up, and maybe this is a good example. Though the person was referring to punk rock and punk-pop leaning bands, it might be better to ask a "Senior Analyst Of Melodic Bar Rock" to cover this show. But I actually dispute that method. We definitely like punk and melodic bar rock, but only if it's well-done. That's a no-brainer, right?
Earlier today, I actually heard a Trey Johnson song that I liked more than anything on this band's new record. Does that mean I'm "maturing" or getting lamer? It had a guitar lick that almost sounded like Curtis Mayfield. Not bad.
Art By Wes Harbison.