Tag Archives: Long Ryders

Blast From The Past – The BoDeans

The BoDeans released Mr. Sad Clown this year, and for all I know it fell on deaf ears like most of their work. But the fact that they’re still out there plugging and making great music after thirty years is a welcome piece of news.

I remember seeing them play a local club just after the crest of an early hit, and I thought we must have just missed a fire drill. Surely a band who even got plaudits from Rolling Stone and MTV could draw a decent crowd, but this one was so tiny that my friends and I barely outnumbered the band. No matter – they played a great set. Great bands always do.

As you can tell from this thirteen year old review of Blend, they were getting the same underwhelming response then that they are now. I’m not pretending they’re the second coming, but they are a good band that is well worth delving into if you’re looking for music that is atmospheric, straightforward, rocking, laid back, lyrical and guttural.

Yep, those are contradictions. Life is contradictions. Enjoy.

They’re still here, ten years later, creating solid, soulful records that should be making AAA radio programmers do cartwheels. So why is it that their only glimpse of the “big time” has come from the use of their song “Closer To Free” as the anthem from the television show Party Of Five? And unlike The Rembrandts, they can’t even maximize their opportunity – after all, the show is on FOX, not NBC.

No matter – despite lackluster sales, club tours and sporadic praise, Sammy Llanas and Kurt Neumann have forged ahead, mining the vein they know best. Somehow two vocalists who individually would be unspectacular twist their voices into a well-oiled and irresistible harmony; Llanas’ rasp smoothed out by Neuman’s silk. Think Everly Brothers with a Jason And The Scorchers edge, or a Springsteen lead with a Little Steven who can hang with him all the way through.

Blend incorporates New Orleans rhythms and instrumentation to fill out its sound. “Heart Of A Miracle” could have been plucked off a Willy DeVille record (speaking of under-appreciated artists), and “Red Roses” is that slow dance with a lover on a second floor balcony. When they rock, like “Count On Me”, it’s more akin to the sound of the Long Ryders or Mellencamp than 1-4-5 rock (again thanks to brushes and toms for a backbeat instead of the Big Drum Sound). Other standouts include “Hurt By Love” and “Hey Pretty Girl”, a song that Springsteen would have killed to record for The River.

Someone must like them – they still have a record deal in an age where record execs are preaching corporate liposuction. And they’re still making very good music, despite the fact that there doesn’t seem to be a radio format ready to embrace them. Fans will be pleased to have another release that stays true to the course. Those new to the BoDeans will find yet another quality band toiling in the shadows. Looks like a win-win situation.

The BoDeans website

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Under The Radar: The Lilybandits

Lilybandits 33 third

Gone, daddy. Gone

Nine and a half years ago I pontificated about The Lilybandits in Cosmik Debris as part of my scour-the-globe feature called The MP3 Files. I put them on a list of bands to watch and follow, but I never heard anything else from their camp. I only discovered the reference to the live album when looking for a photo to include with this essay!

Andy Whitman writes this about them in his blog Razing The Bar (link below) and I think it sums up my frustration perfectly: “All Music Guide, an exhaustive music reviews database where you can find anybody and everybody, has this to say about The Lilybandits. You can click if you want, but here’s the deal: there’s nothing there. There’s a placeholder without content. And that’s the story of The Lilybandits…” Andy wrote those words a year ago and nothing has changed since. Now that is under the radar!

Here’s my original take from May 2000:

An absolutely stunning record that transcends any single style, 33 1/3 conjures up everyone from Big Star to the Jayhawks to the Long Ryders or even the Rolling Stones (with Gram Parsons steering the ship, of course). Tracks like “Fire In The Hole” recall more obscure y’alternative bands like Walk The West. “Past Few Days”, available as an MP3 file, might be the single most beautiful song I’ve heard this year, with achingly sweet vocals and fragile, haunting refrain. Tracks like “Hangin'” combine strong pop sensibilities with enough roadhouse flavor that both camps should gobble this up.

“Beautiful” is countrified blues with a guitar solo that recalls Ronnie Wood’s heartbreaker on The Faces‘ live version of “I’d Rather Go Blind” (if you’re gonna pay homage, it’s good to reference the gods!). “Long Time If I Don’t See You” is a great morning-after song, and in “Easily Broken Heart”, well…how about Rudy Vallee goes country? Chock full of winning tracks like “Vertigo” and “Top” that will resonate in your head after one listen. Make them one of your favorites, too.

And then, of course, they went poof. Try and find this gem if you can!

lilybandits

A live clip from a 2009 reunion.

Listen to three songs here.

No Depression article.

Razing The Bar blog feature.

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Filed under Features and Interviews, Music, Reviews