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The Bodeans

Still

(Oarfin; US: 4 Mar 2008; UK: 4 Mar 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.

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Andrew Gilstrap is a freelance writer living in South Carolina, where he's able to endure the few weeks each year that it's actually freezing (swearing a vow that if he ever moves, it'll be even farther south). Aging into a fine curmudgeon whose idea of heaven is 40 tree-covered acres away from the world, he increasingly wishes he were part of a pair of twins, just so he could try being the kinda evil one on for size. Musically, he's always scouring records for that one moment that makes him feel like he's never heard music before, but he long ago realized he needs to keep his copies of John Prine, Crowded House, the Replacements, Kate Bush, and Tom Waits within easy reach.


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