It’s been a long 30 years since Kurt Neumann and Sammy Llanas first came together as BoDeans in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Late period signings to Slash Records (along with fellow Forward! Staters Violent Femmes) the band scored the Rolling Stone nod for Best New American Band in 1987 with their debut Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams, following in short order with sophomore shot Outside Looking In.
Backed by a rotating crew of sidemen, BoDeans remained a critics darling for the better part of a decade, touring heavily with U2 on The Joshua Tree tour and scoring the patronage of the likes of Robbie Robertson before hitting the roots rock lottery when the first single from their fifth record, Go Slow Down, was selected as the theme song for the hot Fox show Party of Five, a nod that finally translated critical accolades into a Top 20 hit three years after its initial release.
The resulting financial cushion from Closer To Free allowed Newmann and Llanas what was rumored to be much-needed time apart, a hiatus that stretched to almost half a decade through an extended legal battle with management over publishing and contract issues. Llanas formed the band Absinthe during that time, releasing the darkly compelling A Good Day to Die, while Newman investigated the full possibilities of a solo career, releasing an eponymous solo record and playing all the instruments in the offing. Neither project troubled the upper reaches of the sales charts and the two eventually resumed recording under the BoDeans moniker in the early part of the new millennium.
The years that followed have found BoDeans back with a renewed vigor. Two studio releases and a spate of retrospective live, acoustic and DVD releases have surfaced in the wake of that renewed activity, most of which probably sold to the rabid choir that the BoDeans has preached to for some time now.
The band’s latest, Indigo Dreams, is the third studio record since their return and 10th overall. Released on their own He & He imprint in conjunction with Oarfin Records, the release finds BoDeans continuing to ply their trade in the big heartland rock that has borne fruit previously. The proceedings open promisingly with the Sam and Dave indebted “Blowing My Mind” before splitting things pretty evenly between the more mainstream driven Neumann fare and the more populist portraits painted by Llanas for the duration.
Things are solid for the most part, with tracks like “How Can We” and “Way Down” hitting the mark especially nicely. None of the songs here are groundbreaking, and there is arguably a bit of a stumble in the second and third tracks, but sequencing issues aside, Indigo Dreams is a solid release from the Wisconsin veterans. That said, it appears that we have formally reached the end of an era, as Llanas has left the BoDeans fold for a solo career, a split announced formally on the day after this record was released. Neumann subsequently announced that BoDeans will carry on and plan to release a new record later this year.
// Notes from the Road
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