The Bodeans


by Andrew Gilstrap

6 March 2008


Since emerging from Waukesha, Wisconsin, the Bodeans have not only flirted with mainstream success, but also with having the stars align on their rootsy sound. Blessed with the best harmony vocals this side of Louris/Olson-era Jayhawks, the duo of Sammy Llanas and Kurt Neumann have written a ton of great songs, and even enjoyed substantial crossover success with “Closer to Free”, which acted as the theme song for Party of Five. Unfortunately, their albums have usually been uneven affairs. Apart from their ‘86 debut, Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams, it’s been hard to hold up a single Bodeans disc as a definitive effort. Still might not remedy that situation, but this is the strongest Bodeans record in years. The harmonies are still top-notch, and the band seems to have an especially tight grip on the atmospherics they want to bring to each song, from the keening guitar that laces through the smoky “Pretty Ghost”, the growl that drives “Lucille”, or the late-night brooding of “Breathe”.  Part of the album’s success can be chalked up to T-Bone Burnett’s production, but this also sounds like an energized band. Still isn’t an instant classic—Llanas and Neumann occasionally still fall back on their harmonies to prop up a subpar song—but it’s a solid album that shows the Bodeans are far from done.



Topics: the bodeans
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