[26 April 2009]
It’s reasonable to assume that Max Ochs is, by this point, rather tired of being compared to his much more famous cousin Phil, but the relation is worth keeping in mind while listening to Hooray For Another Day. The album, recorded last year, is a mix of instrumental guitar songs and spoken-word poems, and it’s clear from both that though many years have passed, Max is still very much living in the East Village of 1967. And while Max is able to match his cousin for sheer musicality—the guitar pieces here are by turns impressive, absorbing, and moving—he simply does not have the same literary chops. These poems are not just bad, they’re awful—boring, overly self-conscious, and almost laughable in their phrasing. (Sample couplet, from “Crows”: “All these people / loose, grabbable, lovely souls / I want to hug them, and kiss them, and tell them there is no God”.) Ochs was an important figure in the folk movement of the ‘60s—he introduced Robbie Basho to the guitar and was host to blues legends like Mississippi John Hurt—but Hooray For Another Day shows both why he was considered promising, and why he ultimately was unable to deliver on that promise.