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   Saturday, August 17, 2002  
"Stunning," said The Times
"Compelling," says The Fly
"5 stars," said the LA Times
"Almost perfect," says Mojo
"Quite possibly the album of the year,' said someone else whose details have been lost..
If we're to believe everything we read, it's Album of the Month for August at the very least. 'Springsteen, surely?' you cry, but you're wrong. James Taylor?, you jest! Wrong again. Er.. maybe those Coral geezers? you proffer, faultering now. No, no - it's the indie Ryan Adams, Conor Oberst aka Bright Eyes' latest, Lifted or The story is in the soil, keep you ear to the ground. Less encouragingly from this blog's perspective the reviews also contain phrases like 'emotionally wracked,' 'eight minutes long,' and 'Bob Dylan'. Still, the avalanche of positives has proved compelling and the order's in...

..and he's bringing a big band over here in the Autumn, apparently. In the meantime Bright Eyes tours the US in the rather more restrained company of M.Ward, a very attractive ticket. Almost as compelling as a recent show in Houston which had reallyrather idly toying with the flight schedules to Texas. Taking a break from touring with Bennett & Burch, Will and Matt reconvened Centro-matic for a date with fellow Denton-ites Little Grizzly. 'The group's last album, I'd Be Lying if I Said I Wasn't Scared, is a near-masterpiece,' said St. Louis' Riverfront Times in a preview of the band's show there last week. reallyrather stops short of that assessment, but not by much. Having had it for a year, it seems to have rarely left the 'still playing' pile, the two George Neal-solo numbers Charlotte and a brilliantly stark unnamed end track - Rape, death, etc maybe?!- receiving most attention. Says the Riverfront Times, 'Live, the quiet parts are even more eerie and the rock parts rock even harder, with guitarist Matthew Barnhart in particular almost flying off the stage in abandon. Little Grizzly's show at Frederick's last spring was inspiring and energizing, a strong contender for show of the year. Don't miss.' Alright, alright, don't rub it in...

Admittedly Little Grizzly's sound doesn't aspire to universal appeal; it's a bit scruffy and singer/writer George Neal's relaxed attitude to nailing the the right notes mightn't charm everyone. An acquired taste, but hey, as the man said, there's nothing wrong with acquiring taste. 'Rather not work that hard for my musical kicks, thanks all the same,' could however be your not unreasonable response. Less demanding than Little Grizzly but equally satisfying, this blog would point those nonetheless curious towards the more conventionally-shaped rootsy guitar pop of Boston's Lemonpeeler. Earlier this year reallyrather heard Micheal and Jim from the band busk a new song called Morning jitters in the studios of the now sadly defunct RadioBoston. 'Another belter,' was the hasty first impression; spinning the new The Woolly Sessions EP, rr is pleased to confirm - a rock-solid, 24-carat, copper-bottomed belter! Not that Lemonpeeler is doing anything revolutionary. Rather the opposite, in fact - this is song-oriented melodic pop-rock ranging pretty sure-footedly across the Replacements-Crowded House spectrum. And while they don't always hit home - the boogie of Up all night doesn't travel the Atlantic too well, for instance - when they (mostly) do, it's just great stuff. And distinctive, too. The peculiarly complimentary sounds of mainman Michael Hayes' voice and rhythm guitar burnish classically-structured, deeply satisfying tunes like Northbound plane, Take me back, Automatic and Annabelle's design, standouts on debut album The first Time. And Morning jitters is at least as good as any of those; distilled essence of Lemonpeeler complete with deftly-arranged harmonies, organ and - always a good sign - tambourine. Worth having for this track alone...
   posted by SMc at 10:08 AM |