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Happy Jawbone Family Band

OK Midnight You Win

(Feeding Tube; US: 25 Oct 2011; UK: 25 Oct 2011)

Yawn

Why oh why do “indie” bands insist on crummy production values as a stamp of authenticity? Happy Jawbone Family Band, a five-piece folk-rock outfit from Vermont and Colorado, have some okay songs—“Book of Fire” swaggers along nicely, while “Piller of Salt” exhibits some welcome musical muscle—but the album is undermined by its tinny, nails-on-the-chalkboard production. Guitars and vocals are both pushed into the upper registers to the point where songs like opener “I Hope It Works Out Bay” and the eye-wateringly annoying “Don’t Play Ding Dong Ditch With My Heart” are headache-inducing rather than toe-tapping.


The band itself, perhaps, can explain the inclusion of two versions of “I’m Not Gonna Bleed Here For Your Mercy Any Longer”, considering neither rendition is particularly memorable. And yes, that cutesy-yet-overwrought song title is typical of the album as a whole. A little less cleverness with the songs titles next time, and quite a bit more attention to the production would go a long way toward making this a band worth listening to.

Rating:

DAVID MAINE is a novelist and essayist. His books include The Preservationist (2004), Fallen (2005), The Book of Samson (2006), Monster, 1959 (2008) and An Age of Madness (2012). He has contributed to The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Esquire.com and NPR.com, among other outlets. He is a lifelong music obsessive whose interests range from rock to folk to hip-hop to international to blues. He currently lives in western Massachusetts, where he works in human services. Catch up with his blog, The Party Never Stops, at davidmaine.blogspot.com, or become his buddy on Facebook (or Twitter or Google+ or whatever you prefer) to keep up with reviews and other developments.


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