The Lonely H may have graduated high school this year, but musically they’re not much past the mid-‘70s. The small-town Washington state band have expanded horizons on their second album. They’re setting off on a national tour in support of the Control Group release, but their MOA remains decidedly retro. Their best material showcases a group that’s already leaned well how to construct a song in the classic rock mould: “Rollin’” is a surf-washed Paul Simon ballad with a charming melody. The recording’s low-fi, demo quality suits the guitar/guitar/bass blues riffs and sudden tempo changes well, and Mark Fredson’s vocals have an easy lyricism, with a muddy undercurrent that comes most alive when the band’s in full, dragged-together mode. Though the lyrics can drift towards the inane (“There’s a storm inside my head, pretty soon I’ll be dead”, for example), the group occasionally hits on a line that has the stickiness of a hit—“Though it’s bittersweet, it’s mostly only sweet”, Fredson sings on “The Drought”. They might be generating this kind of excitement in their hometown (“Hey have you heard this band the Lonely H? They’re from my high school!”) and though this music has a youthful pep that somewhat energizes the retro material, it’s sometimes difficult for the Lonely H to assert themselves with their own distinctive voice. Because of this, the Lonely H have a way to go before they’re going to grab a sizeable audience of their own. Earl Greyhound is more stringently righteous, and Be Your Own Pet has more young vivacity. Good thing is, they’ve got plenty of time to improve.
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// Notes from the Road
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