The Buddha Den

Everything you wanted to know about the Dayton music scene and more but were afraid to ask

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

REVIEW: Andrew & the Pretty Punchers "Goodbye Ohio"


Andrew & the Pretty Punchers aren't out to reinvent the wheel. Rather, on their debut disc Goodbye Ohio, they mine the rich legacies of their forebearers and issue forth a collection that oscillates between the sentimental and the raucous. Throughout the disc, A&TPP offer meditations on the stark ennui of life in Dayton and the persistent desire for more, yet again and again reaching the conclusion that there is nowhere more they'd rather be than in the sleepy midwestern city they call home.

Under the guidance of Captain of Industry's John Lakes manning the machinery, A&TPP harness the energetic live show that has earned them a loyal following in Dayton. Clocking in just under the half-hour mark, Goodbye Ohio sets its tone from the start on "Our Modern Love" with a breezy folk vibe. With his sharp, yet inviting voice, Andy Smith paints images of Ohio, and Dayton in particular.

Smith's gritty sentimentality shines on "Our Modern Love" and "Owe Me", lining his simple love songs with a stinging pessimism. With a sympathetic ear seldom found on a debut disc, the rest of the Pretty Punchers — Greg Saluke (guitar/vocals), Kevin Rogers (lead guitar), Josh Wickersham (bass/vocals), and Mike Payne (drums)— shift between the delicate folk and the late-night barroom rockers that punctuate the disc. The melodic bass line of "Yr On Yr Own Now" flows right into Smith's searing vocals, echoing strains of The Decembrists and even Credence Clearwater Revival.

Far from being a snoozy affair, the infectious funk of "The Hangaround" and the relentlessly driving "Guns Raised", which builds into a woozy psychedlic slide guitar crescendo. Some of the rockers come off as rote midwestern rockers, however, such as the charming "Song for a Waitress", "Helluva Lot Colder", and "Skippin' Town. However, the latter's revelation that escape from small town America is best left to the imagination strikes at the core of Smith's themes.

One of the finest moments on the disc lies in the poetic wisdom of "Love Like the Child", as Smith declares: "Mind your health and drink like your dead/Your gift ain't waiting in heaven/Your gift ain't waiting nowhere". With this simple stroke, A&TPP at once embrace the hope and despair so prevalent in small towns throughout America. Closing out the disc, the title track emphasizes the band's acknowledgment that they are, and most likely will forever be, a band firmly rooted in the grim, yet brilliant, light of Dayton. For a band so young, it is rare to possess such a strong sense of purpose and to so eloquently embrace and express that ideal.

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2 Comments:

Blogger mike said...

lemme get that

5:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the best band i've heard in this town in a LONG, LONG time.

can't wait to hear the CD!

5:37 PM  

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