[17 September 2009]
You have to hand it to Boulder Acoustic Society’s singer/songwriter/accordionist Scott McCormick for the diversity of the material on Punchline, an album that takes on gospel, soul, piano ballads, pop ditties, Pixies-style freakouts, and Eastern Bloc ethno-rock. This range of sounds means, however, the record is a mish-mash with a wide variety not only of sonic templates but also of overall quality. For every moment of ambitious songcraft, like “The Addressee”, a tragic love story set during World War I, there’s a half-serious throwaway like the ironic dork wobble croon of “Sunset”, and the album gets more bizarre as it goes on. The most obvious reference point is Gogol Bordello, with its stabbing violin and swinging accordion, but BAS never matches the exuberance or combustibility of that band. While Punchline grates as much as it pleases, these Colorado boys aren’t short on talent or creativity, and if the band ever gets serious by keeping it simpler, as on the album’s best song, the lovely “Until Then”, BAS will have a good record or Off-Broadway musical worth its wait.