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ALBUM REVIEW: The Good Fear/Dirty Lowdown Adventure July 8, 2008

Posted by glenhooks in Album Reviews.
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One of my favorite local albums of the past few years was Keep in Touch  by The Good Fear (Max Recordings, 2006).  It filled my headphones for a good couple of months.  My infatuation with the album led to an embarrassing moment when I was shopping and actually ran into TGF’s Zach Holland  (with my headphones in).  In my surprise, I gushed/confessed that I was listening to the album while I was talking to him.  I’m pretty sure that I freaked him out a little bit, because he didn’t know me that well, certainly not well enough to conclude that I was anything but some sort of freaky stalker hassling him at the Target.  Embarrassing moment aside, I still do love the album (although I kind of grounded myself from talking to Zach for a while in hopes of rehabilitating my rep.)   Hopefully, I’ve made some progress.  One day at a time.

TGF’s new album, Dirty Lowdown Adventure, (Max Recordings, 2008) is a strong, if somewhat uneven, followup to Keep in Touch.  Two years in the making, it’s 21 (21!!) tracks long and reflects what must happen when six excellent musicians are all too nice to each other to consider excising some of the tracks out of the final package.  All in all, it’s a much more subdued and curious album than its predecessor, much more spare and quiet than I expected from this sometimes rollicking sextet.  

Dirty Lowdown Adventure seems to be an experiment in turning down the volume.  It’s technically delicious, somehow enormous in its sparseness.  Haunting musically, yet ultimately puzzling.  Perhaps this is a concept album and I just haven’t yet grasped the concept.  

Frankly, this is not an album that grabbed me upon the first–or even the third–listen.  I confess a preference for livelier musical fare.  Meandering tracks like “Western Meds” (a real head-scratcher), “yawn, yawn, yawn, ya…sleep” (aptly named) and “Just a Vice” (about 10 minutes of WTF?) are puzzling and left me wondering if the band spent two years smoking the homegrown.   There are more up-tempo rewards for the patient, however, including the title track, “Where We Were Before,” “I LIke My Lived-in Life”, and “Dear Daniel” that show flashes of The Good Fear that I love to see in concert.  I’m also especially fond of “January Home”.

Dirty Lowdown Adventure is an album that is somber in tone, layered in texture, and challenging in its makeup.  It’s not The Good Fear’s party album, but it showcases a band unafraid to take chances and experiment with the formula.  Give it a listen–but don’t expect it to make you head-bob around the Target on your next shopping trip.

Sibilance,

Glen

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