Last year I wrote a review of a certain collaborative album that came out of Kurt Vile and Courtney Barnett wherein I spoke rather unceremoniously of the project: well it struck me as the mark of accomplished indie knobs puffed full of themselves and then sent into the studio and just di** around, produce whatever vocal doo-doo first popped into their heads, sing it in a coy, cheeky aw-shucks sneer, and released it to droves of jaw-snapping accolades. And that’s exactly what happened.
Something strange however occurred when I was recently home and had on the Goshen, Indiana college radio station: I heard something off the Vile album (which I had taken it to literally be) and it didn’t sound that bad. It was like some fancy drink like Sex on the Beach that you want to hate but has been crafted by too many persistent hands wholly dedicated to disappointing your endeavor of disappointment. Still, it was background music, similar to the last War on Drugs album which I actually did hear one dude remark was great “background music” for cleaning his house (I wonder as to whether he remembers any of the lyrics on it).
One thing this might suggest to me is that there are two different kinds of music: the visionary kind, and the kind of simple aural pulp. Ironically, given what I’ve said so far about the latter, Detroit’s Bonny Doon and their sophomore selection Longwave likewise fall into the category of “background music,” so bully for them that I happen to be handling this maraca- and Hammond-wielding folks-trot in late Spring and the festival-heavy time of year.
Slated for opening dates later this year for Band of Horses and Snail Mail, Bonny Doon have clearly already won the BEST kind of critical acclaim you can get, that from within their own “camp” of the musicians themselves, so that’s got to feel good. I must agree that this is most palatable, yet curiously COMPLETE sounding, folk rock, with the agents I’ve just described, as well as an easy going vocal disposition on the part of band’s Bobby Colombo which seems to decry that, We don’t want to be the best band ever or the ONLY band you listen to, but just contribute the overall party, which clearly they will be doing shortly.
Despite that this is a pretty good album I must note one particular frustration and that is that, even on top of the already distinctly T-Bone Burnett-borne SOUND on “Take Me away,” the chord progression then likewise proceeds to directly rip off The Wallflowers’ “Three Marlenas,” even to the point where I can’t ever even fashion my own bona fide opinion of the song although generally like the rest of the album it is produced well and cloak’s the singer’s croon in a nice, syrupy haze over over dubs. Also, the middle section of the album seems an odd placement for this brief, half-asleep three-chord shrug of a mini-song, and from a larger scope this track four-through-six area can dip a little bit into laziness and kinetic ennui. Still, you can’t fake the ache, and even though pretty much all of these songs are languid, lazy and melancholy folk numbers with gentle acoustic guitar and lead steel, Longwave never comes across as fake, but maybe too inebriated to shake its own hand, at certain points.