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I just read a review that says it's the same old, depressing
Eitzel, and it pisses me off."
Though the line-up was the same --
Eitzel on vocals and guitar, Dan Pearson on bass, Mooney on drums
and Vudi on guitar with new member Marc Capelle on piano/trumpet
-- their approach was somewhat different. Formed in 1983, American
Music Club had garnered a reputation for its travels in rather stark
territory, thanks to powerhouse -- though overlooked -- albums like
1991's cinematically gloomy Everclear and its follow-up,
1993's haunting Mercury. Eitzel's songs were dark, drunken
rants, soaked in soul-searching, angry reflection and regret, recanting
and recasting painfully attractive life episodes that throb like
a decayed tooth that you can't seem to quit pushing with your tongue.
With Love Songs for Patriots, however, Eitzel and company
have re-emerged in brighter, more hopeful terrain. Peppered with
socio-political glances, the record rocks more often than it floats
(for you outsiders, think upbeat Twilight Singers or Red House Painters).
The unmistakable optimism is woven into songs like the lilting "Only
Love Can Set You Free," where Eitzel urgently testifies "I've
been so lucky," or "Another Morning," where he
tells a down-and-out friend, "You wear your pain with pride
you refuse to remove it / You become the evil that plays with you
like a doll," or the first-person fable, "Myopic Books,"
where he realizes that "Maybe the worst is over."
Or maybe Eitzel is just being ironic and I was misreading the whole
collection. Are these really songs of hope?
"I think so," he said. "I certainly didn't set out
to write them that way, but I think there's a lot of positive stuff
here. Still, I just read a review that says it's the same old, depressing
Eitzel, and it pisses me off. They got it all wrong. They weren't
Published in The Omaha Reader Nov.10, 2004.
Copyright © 2004 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.