The Tiniest Vacuum
Are you listening? Do you care? So many bands ask this as their music and CDs get shipped out to God knows where. Who will be playing this music? Will it make any difference? All that work, either hard or easy, will it pay off? Does this music suit the current climate of the popular tastes in general? Doesn’t matter if it’s indie or major, will someone out there at least think it’s good? Or has the self-kidding already been glossed over and the truth of the matter is the current record being shipped out is just shit? So many factors to consider.
Don’t get into the business if you want to make money. Get into it because you love to give your work out for free. Most times, discs that are being sold are worthless, so not charging your listeners will at least make them appreciate you a little more. They won’t feel bitchy after listening to your latest lousy disc and either turn a 100% profit online when they sell it, or just toss it away with the free junk mail that arrived yesterday. Either way, it’s a win-win situation. Except for your band, of course.
Do I say this in jest? Only partially. There are times when you’re writing up these reviews and other ideas just fail you because what you’ve just listened to for a write-up is just so damned boring that there doesn’t seem to be any other way around it. For instance, does anyone outside of Iowa actually care about Driver of the Year and their album Some Girls Would Say ...? I’m not sure, but I’d be willing to bet that after you’ve read this review, you’ll have forgotten about them as well as soon as you’ve read the last sentence. That’s the impression I got after the last note was played on this album. A better question, then, might be does anyone residing in Iowa actually care about Driver of the Year?
Because that’s where they’re from, you know. I saw some other reviews that pointed out how pseudo-shocking this all was. Come on, there are rock bands all over the world now. Why the hell is it so jaw-droppingly amazing or nearly inconceivable that Iowa would have a rock band? I’d bet that they have lots of rock bands. So they don’t come from a major U.S. hub of rock and roll. No biggie there. The band from a small town in a quaint state angle isn’t going to make this stuff any more exciting, so just forget about that.
And once again, I’m tired of this whole retro thing. Can hipster wannabe bands not borrow from the ‘70s anymore? Is that the only idea left in the cliché cans these days? By the time I heard Driver of the Year’s electric piano for the umpteenth time on this disc, I was ready to burn my stereo down just for some relief. And Jason Parris, let me just say that you don’t need to be the lead vocalist. Your singing, while lacking like a lot of other folks’ these days, doesn’t lack and still have that je ne sai quais (to use my own cliché) to make me want to listen to you anyway. Put some balls behind those pipes, man. You sound like you were as bored as I was listening to this mess.
To be slightly fair, the opening song here, “The Squeeler”, does pretty well in its typical retro-bullshit way. The electric piano comes off as “neat” and there’s enough of a groove to make one think that there will be something promising here, but (no) surprise! That’s the last bit of anything remotely groovy (is that the retro word I should use here, or is that too ‘60s) that takes place within the seven songs here.
Yes, seven songs and I still felt like I aged ten years by the time Some Girls Would Say ... was finished. The second song here is titled “Sunburst Finish”, and I wonder if that’s some wink and a nod to Todd Rundgren and Utopia, since they had a track entitled that very same thing on their old Ra album back in the late ‘70s. I had gotten my hopes up, you know, being a big fan of Todd’s and seeing that title. But, once again, I was depressed and appalled by this band that has little to no talent wanking about on an album they clearly shouldn’t have made.
The song titles really are promising, too. Although “Rock N’ Roll Revolution” sets itself up to fail with its title (and does, believe me), other things like “Stuck up Drunk” and “Cheap Ass Wine” read like they should be pretty cool. No such luck. Driver of the Year just rambles around each of these tunes trying to do its best Black Sabbath-Roxy Music-Steely Dan-Yes impersonation. (Go ahead and laugh; those are the exact bands listed as things you might be reminded of while listening to this sounds like a mess, doesn’t it?) They fail, and instead wind up sounding like another clueless group who have no grasp on anything resembling an original streak of the present, let alone the ‘70s.
So walk on by, readers. You haven’t missed a thing if you don’t listen to Some Girls Would Say .... And don’t think I’m being cheeky here and trying to get you to listen to this in a reverse-psychology fashion. I’d never do such a thing as that. If you want your pants bored off you, go ahead and do the damage. Otherwise, just pretend this was all just some sort of semi-fuzzy dream that you can’t really remember and don’t have the energy to try and make yourself recall the details.
We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong online. Please consider a donation to support our work as an independent publisher devoted to the arts and humanities. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing and challenging times where advertising no longer covers our costs. We need your help to keep PopMatters publishing. Thank you.
// Sound Affects
"Natalie Hemby's Puxico is a standout debut from a songwriter who has been behind the scenes for over a decade.READ the article