The Steely Dan comparison is no fluke. If
anything, these guys do have that FM '70s charm that I remember growing up -- the kind of
music you heard blaring from stereo hi-fis set up in people's garages, played loud on a
summer day when they were changing their oil.
I tend to get obsessed with
what's called "college" or "indie" rock, maybe because it's been a
staple of my musical diet for so long. I get about a half-dozen CDs a week in the mail
these days to review, most of them fall under the college/indie category and are bands I
would never have heard of any other way than through my connection with Lazyeye.
Anyway, with the advent of lo-fi and the constant deification of the experimental bands of
the underground, just about all of it has a touch of ugliness -- some unwieldy distortion
or strange effect thrown in on purpose (we're to believe) because it communicates a sliver
of the artists' angst or ennui. Sometimes it works, usually it falls on its face. After
awhile, the "out there"-ness of true college indie can become rather bleak,
static-filled, and so experimental that it's boring. I mean, how many times can you pay
homage to Sonic Youth and the Velvets?
I bring this up because once in a while I also get a straight-on rock CD to review by a
band that makes no apologies about its love for warm, bassy rock-and-roll. And when the
band is good and isn't obviously trying to sound like the Doobie Brothers or Blues
Traveler or a bad '80s hair band, the experience can be rather pleasant.
Such is the case with the 3-song CD demo from Omaha's The Get. Here's a band that you
would never mistake for an alt-indie-underground outfit in a million years. I suppose you
could call them a "jam band," but that definition carries with it the baggage of
awful outfits like Phish or the Grateful Dead and their legions of drug-addled zombie-cult
groupies. These guys sound way too smart to be lumped into that group of slow-learners. It
would be more appropriate to call their music "traditional rock," meaning the
band that plays a defined melody, solid instruments, well thought-out guitar solos, and
sports vocals not meant to be enjoyed for sheer irony's sake.
Where The Get gets its love for roots '70s rock is a mystery. The trio features former
members of Honeywagon and Blahbudda, two rather obscure bands I've never heard before. The
combination, however, seems to work.
"Thinman Page 29" is the cream of the crop, certainly good enough to release
as a single and definately radio ready. It opens with a cool acoustic guitar riff that
leads right into an electric guitar surge that takes us to the solid rolling bass that
echoes everything you've heard so far. Some might call this stuff bluesy, mainly because
Chris Weber's vocals have the same organic melody lines and twists as Stevie Ray Vaughn's
(Webers' voice actually sounds like a slightly higher-pitched version of Paul Rodgers').
The free-wheeling guitar solo is very Eff Em, if you know what I mean. The lyrics don't
stand out at all, other than, "It's a long way down to heaven's door" (or is it
roar? I'm not quite sure). The lyrics throughout are merely placeholders for melody.
"Mood Swings" and "Five O'Clock" are less interesting. Mood Swings
is a little too poppy in a Dave Matthews sort of way. Corey Weber's bass, while it keeps
the track a-rollin', is a bit boring. Maybe it's because this is a stab at being jazzy and
tries too hard to be free-form, especially on the solo. Five O'Clock has a nice scat
guitar riff, floating melodies and reminds me of very early Steely Dan. For once the
lyrics seem to stand out on their own, but what the hell do they mean? "She works
hard to keep trim/She'll keep her lawn perpetually green." Uh, yeah.
The Steely Dan comparison is no fluke. If anything, these guys do
have that FM '70s charm that I remember growing up -- the kind of music you heard blaring
from stereo hi-fis set up in people's garages, played loud on a summer day when they were
changing their oil. The kind of music that sounds right at an outdoor concert in a park
where kites are flying overhead. You getting the picture? This is good-time bass-driven
rock-and-roll like your big brother used to listen to. And it's nice to have it back.
I haven't head them live, but methinks that these tracks take on a
life of their own when performed on stage, especially when it comes time to rotate the
solos. Hopefully the EP will fall into the hands of someone such as Omaha's own Gold
Circle/Samson Records, where this band would fit rather snuggly. Until then, we'll have to
wait for them to save up their money to record a full-length.
801 No. 48th St. No. 5
Omaha, NE 68132
Copyright © 2000 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.