Posts Tagged ‘Country’

Found – Barry

October 4, 2011

Barry – Yawnin’ in the Dawnin’ EP

I had started writing a long introduction to this review about finding music, but let’s just say that music that you’d never otherwise hear sometimes makes its way to you, and when it’s something you enjoy it’s a like a gift.  Barry, a band consisting of the three brothers (last name Barry), wound their way from upstate New York to my living room in Los Angeles via an invitation from the band to review their debut EP.  My review is long overdue, but that time has given me a chance to listen to the EP multiple times now, and it continues to grow on me.

The opener, Yawnin’ in the Dawnin’, is a short intro number that is a bit of a throwaway, with silly (in a clever way) lyrics and a hint at the vocal harmonies to come.  The proper opener, For Your Own Good, is a what I’d call a straight forward rocker with a country twinge.   The band calls themselves a folk band in their press materials, but I really hear more of a rock outfit with definite country and roots influences.   This song is uptempo and sprinkles in a liberal dose of harmonica, and we need more of that instrument in rock today.  There’s some nice vocal harmonies going on, but I think this is probably the weakest track of the bunch (which means we’re going to get to some pretty good stuff).

Next up, the mood darkens with Carnival(e).  This song has a sinister edge compared to the previous track, it is a slower tempo and the rhythmic cadence of the music and lyrics evoke something that you could find in Tom Waits’ catalog circa Rain Dogs.  Like most of the tracks on the EP, the lyrics do a really good job of setting a mood and telling a story.

Three Years In Carolina continues the slower tempo, though I think in general that slow down suits their voices and musical talents.  Singing about recovering from a girl who ran away, the narrator’s plan is “to get high every day” which I think is a funny line.  The chorus is really good in this song, and we get some more harmonica.  Following up this strong track, the brothers continue with another song that should become a favorite at bars around the country.  Drink One More Time lets each one of the brothers sing a verse and also has some very nice harmonies between them.  They give us some more wit and another memorable chorus.  And the world can always use another good song about drinking beer and whiskey and hanging out with friends we haven’t seen in a long time.

From bar-ready rock, the next song is a little more along the lines of Three Years, as it again covers the subject of lost loves and wondering whether that lost love still thinks about him.  Love Something Too Much is another very good song that again delivers a killer chorus that again takes advantage of the voices of all three of the brothers.

The closer, Great Unknown, showcases the ability of the band’s lyrics to set up a scene with their lyrics.  Telling the story of a boy trying to win back a girl, you feel like you are sitting in the booth next to them as they meet for coffee and go through the pictures of her trip to Paris.  A really good guitar line pushes the song along to a rousing finish.

I was impressed with the production quality of the EP and I was also liked how the EP got better from beginning to end.  This wasn’t an album with one decent song and a bunch of filler.  I have a feeling this band would be very fun to see live and if they ever make out to the West Coast, I would definitely go check them out.  I hope they get the chance to put more music out, but in the meantime I’d definitely recommend taking a listen (check out their facebook page to hear the EP) and see if you feel like someone gave you a present.

Story in Song

March 15, 2010

Acid Tongue – Jenny Lewis from Acid Tongue

I grew up loving to read books.  Strangely then, when it comes to music, lyrics are usually not what grabs me in music.  It’s the sounds.  Even with the vocals, the sound of the singer’s voice can make or break a song for me.  What he or she is saying doesn’t really matter.

I say usually.   Lyrics sometimes do make a song great for me, and it seems to happen most often when the lyrics are telling a story or describing a mood, the musical equivalent of a novel or narrative.  This is the case with Jenny Lewis’ Acid Tongue.  With nothing but a simple acoustic guitar accompaniment, she paints a vivid picture of sadness.  The first verse has our protagonist having a conversation with a shoe cobbler about the “hole in you” and her firing back to said cobbler “i’m not lookin’ for a cure.”  Next she talks about dropping acid in Dixie, being “a little bit drunk and looking for company”, then she finds someone but is “unlucky in love.”  On the chorus she is joined by several others singing a countrified “i’m a liar.”  The sadness builds as she sings about there being  “no snake oil cure for unlucky in love” and “to be lonely is a habit.”  And then the chorus switches from talking about being a liar to “and now I am tired.”

The song, to me, is the musical equivalent of a Steinbeck or Cormac McCarthy novel.  When I listen to the song I envision an America past, mountains, the small towns, the deserts of America and the people that inhabit places not yet overrun by Walmarts and fast food chains.  Not saying all those people are as sad as our protagonist, just that is the mental images conjured for me when I hear this song.