Music

Doveman: Footloose

This re-imagining of the Footloose soundtrack will not bring to mind Kevin Bacon dancing in a barn, but it shows us that a number of these songs weren't just empty dance numbers.


Doveman

Footloose

Label: Brassland
US Release Date: 2008-07-01
UK Release Date: Available as import
Amazon
iTunes

Right off the bat, you have to give credit to Doveman for making their new release, a re-imagining of the Footloose soundtrack, even listenable. The risk in this sort of record, considering the downtrodden sound of Doveman and the ironic kitsch built into the '80s film, is huge. Doveman's Footloose could easily have come out a tired, tongue-in-cheek joke. Or worse, it could be a self-serious vanity project. But it is neither. Recorded as a favor to a friend who lost a sister and feels an emotional tie to the film, Footloose is a well-executed, and often heartbreaking, labor of love.

Thomas Bartlett, the mind behind Doveman, had his two biggest hurdles right off the bat on Footloose. The opening title track, originally a bouncy Kenny Loggins number about dancing your troubles away, is a brooding piano ballad in Bartlett's hands. His cracking whisper of a voice drives the work-week sadness of the verses home, before lilting up into a high-register creak for the chorus. Bartlett turns Loggins' bracing call to Louise into a crippled plea, making the song one of frustration rather than release. In Bartlett's version, we're never given the satisfaction Loggins wanted us to have. He never lets us forget that there's tomorrow morning, and a line of mornings coming after that, where you will once again be working so hard, punching that card for another eight hours of work.

"Let's Hear It for the Boy" starts off the same way, just Bartlett and a piano. There's a little more life in his voice, but not much, still tired and hurt-sounding. But by the end of the song, when the band joins him and the accordion kicks up, we get our first sense of the relief in Bartlett's voice. As he sings the title line, he sounds tired but happy to not be alone. Where he takes the feel-good get-together message of "Footloose" and turns it into something more lonely, on "Let's Hear It for the Boy", he retains the original's new-love zeal, but coats it in a dusty layer of realistic fatigue. Bartlett puts the strain of looking for love on display here, without losing sight of the love found in the song.

Much of the album follows the same formula as the two openers. They start as solo piano ballads and build to something with only a little more presence. It never out-and-out fails, but it renders "Almost Paradise" -- slow and plodding enough in its original version -- as a threadbare, almost non-existent track. The closer "Never" suffers from the same barely-there orchestration, as Bartlett shoots for fragile and doesn't quite get there. The rest of Footloose works better when Bartlett has a few more players behind him. The sinister drive of the drums in "Holding Out for a Hero" makes give his wispy vocals a little more to rest on. The echoed guitars, and slight reverb in his voice on "The Girl Gets Around" makes Bartlett sound like he's singing from the bottom of a murky well, and with the same affecting strain he used so well on the title track.

It's hard to really criticize Doveman for Footloose. It was a heartfelt favor for a friend, and they're giving the album away for free. It might not measure up to their other albums, but it succeeds far more than it should. It will not bring to mind Kevin Bacon dancing in a barn, but it shows us that a number of these songs weren't merely empty dance numbers. Some of these songs were actually well-written, and in Bartlett's hands, they are a sweetly sad bunch.

6

This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Music

The World of Captain Beefheart: An Interview with Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx

Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx (photo © Michael DelSol courtesy of Howlin' Wuelf Media)

Guitarist and band leader Gary Lucas and veteran vocalist Nona Hendryx pay tribute to one of rock's originals in this interview with PopMatters.

From the opening bars of "Suction Prints", we knew we had entered The World of Captain Beefheart and that was exactly where we wanted to be. There it was, that unmistakable fast 'n bulbous sound, the sudden shifts of meter and tempo, the slithery and stinging slide guitar in tandem with propulsive bass, the polyrhythmic drumming giving the music a swing unlike any other rock band.

Keep reading... Show less

From Haircut 100 to his own modern pop stylings, Nick Heyward is loving this new phase of his career, experimenting with genre with the giddy glee of a true pop music nerd.

In 1982, Nick Heyward was a major star in the UK.

As the leader of pop sensations Haircut 100, he found himself loved by every teenage girl in the land. It's easy to see why, as Haircut 100 were a group of chaps so wholesome, they could have stepped from the pages of Lisa Simpson's "Non-Threatening Boys" magazine. They resembled a Benetton knitwear advert and played a type of quirky, pop-funk that propelled them into every transistor radio in Great Britain.

Keep reading... Show less

Acid house legends 808 State bring a psychedelic vibe to Berlin producer NHOAH's stunning track "Abstellgleis".

Berlin producer NHOAH's "Abstellgleis" is a lean and slinky song from his album West-Berlin in which he reduced his working instruments down to a modular synthesizer system with a few controllers and a computer. "Abstellgleis" works primarily with circular patterns that establish a trancey mood and gently grow and expand as the piece proceeds. It creates a great deal of movement and energy.

Keep reading... Show less

Beechwood offers up a breezy slice of sweet pop in "Heroin Honey" from the upcoming album Songs From the Land of Nod.

At just under two minutes, Beechwood's "Heroin Honey" is a breezy slice of sweet pop that recalls the best moments of the Zombies and Beach Boys, adding elements of garage and light tinges of the psychedelic. The song is one of 10 (11 if you count a bonus CD cut) tracks on the group's upcoming album Songs From the Land of Nod out 26 January via Alive Natural Sound Records.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image