The Skating Club is former Difference Engine member Aubrey Anderson. With his shoe-gazing days behind him, as they are with most bands, Anderson still needed an outlet to get his musical ideas out there. The Skating Club, a place Anderson would drive past routinely, became the inspiration for the band’s name. A debut solo album in 2001 was a mish mash of songs collected and amassed over several years. The first album fared quite well, the second album didn’t, so now with his third attempt The Unfound Sound, Anderson is back doing things on his own with interesting results.
The opening track, “The Long Hot July”, has Anderson sounding like the ‘70s-era country star Ronnie Milsap if he was starting out today in rock circles. Slow and almost at a snail’s pace at times, the song has Anderson’s vocals out front driving the tune before the obligatory guitar accents the end of each lyric. “You want to know the person I wanna exorcise?”, Anderson sings before a fuzzed out guitar comes in to create a vast, wide-open type of tune. Part soul and part singer-songwriter, it resembles a cross between Michael Penn and Chris Isaak, which creates a haunting bit of lovable pop. “San Francisco” is more straightforward rock fodder that glides along nicely. Here Anderson tries to do his best Art Garfunkel-meets-Elliott Smith impersonation and it’s pretty decent. Like the first song, this one is also the type you can nestle into prior to the chorus. The lone complaint I have with the song is how it seems to be gutted by a premature fade out.
Anderson uses a keyboard effectively on the soft and tender title track. The guitar buzz seems an odd complement but it works here for some reason. In no hurry to get the song over with, Anderson seems to align himself with Beck’s Mutations album in some respects. But again the idea isn’t completely realized as it cuts itself too short after three minutes and change. “Summer Time” tries to recapture that precious Beach Boys breezy feeling but Anderson’s timbre is not quite as high to pull it off, making it more of a monotone Brian Wilson cover. The lone track which doesn’t quite fit the album’s mold is a fine and solid “Pretty Soon” that resembles a cross between the Handsome Family and Matthew Sweet. The effort is perhaps the album’s highlight as everything fits together for the greater good. Unfortunately, Anderson wears his heart on his sleeve too early and easily on the darker “Panic and Doubt”, a track that could be on Dolorean’s Not Exotic record.
One of the more eclectic offerings of the 11 presented is a jerky soul-rock tune entitled “The Spirit of the Stairs” as Anderson brings Ron Sexmith to mind. “I can’t move along and I can’t forget what I said”, he sings on the heartfelt tune. But even this is one-upped by the gorgeous “Beach Tar Footsie”, a mid-tempo tune with some electro-like back beat keeping it flowing. If you could envision Primitive Radio Gods with more substance and imagination, this would be a song they would nail. Again, Anderson is in no hurry as background noise and conversation weaves in and out of each headphone, causing some people to think of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. The ensuing “Count to Ten” tries the same thing but goes once too often to the musical well, a well that ran dry by the conclusion of “Beach Tar Footsie”. A cheesy keyboard introduces “Hope”, a folksy song whose title loses all of it before Anderson utters a single word. At times Skating Club has you going in splendid musical circles, but occasionally the songs leave you hoping for just a touch more.
// Notes from the Road
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