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Rating: No

Supperbell Roundup

At Station Four

Side 1 Dummy


If he ever gets heard by the coffeeshop folkies, who are too busy reading The Progressive and wondering whatever happened to Woody G., he'll find his audience. Until then, it's sink or swim by way of plucky banjo, sad-sack vocals and well-intentioned ennui. Brendon Massei's first mistake seems to have been to call himself Supperbell Roundup, until you realize the moniker is so strange you'll never forget it.

The sound is stripped down, indie-style, one-man-powered pickin' folk. The resemblance is dead-pan Beck a la One Foot in the Grave. Missing is any sort of unique modern-day reflection of the world, central to any good folk song because it's the words that carry it. The bio says he's been wandering around the country on a Greyhound since he was 16. He must have spent most of time asleep in the back or reading Steinbeck. Anyone could have dreamed up these tales of wandering woe without leaving their living room. At his best, he tells us his worries while he reinvents traditional folk and makes it his own, in the dialect of a 19-year-old drifter. But those moments are few and drowned out by plain-Jane traditionalism that's pleasent, if uninspired. Still, you can hear the potential, and it'll be interesting to see what he comes up with the next time he steps off the bus.

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Printed in The Reader September 30, 1999. Copyright 1999 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.