PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.

Music

Lookwell: Unhurried

Jason MacNeil

Lookwell

Unhurried

Label: Eskimo Kiss
US Release Date: 2003-03-11
UK Release Date: Available as import
Amazon
iTunes

There are hundreds of stories about musicians struggling to make ends meet. Whether selling off cars to gather up enough money for a demo, taking out additional mortgages for that cross country "make it or break it" tour, or flipping burgers at all three burger joints across from the suburban strip mall. However, for a trio of friends from Greensboro, North Carolina, this sacrifice has been taken to a whole new level. The band sold off Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, Jawas, Millenium Falcons, and even Yoda to get this five-song EP off the ground. Yes, an entire Star Wars collection! Regardless of this, the trio of Chris Jackson, Jason Kennedy, and Lonnie Richardson is intent on making it happen. Produced by Jerry Kee, who has worked with the Connells, Kingsbury Manx, and Superchunk, this debut disc is a nice blend of indie pop and rock. But perhaps its greatest asset is some of the songs have all the finishing touches along the lines of Coldplay, Radiohead, and new British pop act Budapest.

Starting things off with "Autobahn", the press release states: "a song echoing the steady and determined pace of a frantic tourist released upon the fabled German motorway." Well, how one determines what route, road or highway the singer is on by the arrangement is anyone's guess. A mid-tempo arrangement that sounds as weary as it does fresh, the group come off quite a bit like an early R.E.M., particularly in the Stipe-like delivery and range. The backing harmonies are subtle enough to carry the tune, but the bridge and its buildup lose steam. If the guitars were more pronounced and dominant, Lookwell would look, well, like the Cure. Coming to a dead stop before having an atmospheric effect, the tune is a decent start. "Painted Seats" starts off with the lyrics, "At the wake you wore socks / Was it last year you were off". A unique opening, to be sure. Sounding downtrodden and a tad bland, the song ambles along while quickly losing the plot. The middle portion is decent but quickly reverts to the weak format.

Perhaps the best track, although given there are only five, is the urgent roots-rock of "Lasting Favorite". Coming off a cross between R.E.M. and Canadian band the Tragically Hip in its heyday, the song takes a lot of chances in its winding nature. The lyrics aren't exactly memorable, but the tune has enough punch in it courtesy of Jason Blaustien's drumming style. There's a definite homage to a '60s psychedelic sound working in the background, making it more accessible. If there's one drawback, it's the inane conclusion that cannot possibly fade quickly enough. "The Ghost and The Courthouse" ensues with a melodic indie pop resembling the Connells circa Ring. The rhythm section evokes a dreamy pop idea before a certain line is repeated a tad too much. It gets bolder as well as it continues, making it possibly a great live track, one that could be expanded upon.

The EP ends with "Pencil Me In", a very solid tune that the listener knows will be brilliantly and deliberately layered. An electric guitar is joined by a nice and light drumbeat. Unfortunately a cheesy, thick and brash keyboard enters the fray. It's removed shortly thereafter but the song loses some of its oomph. The song takes a gentle but sweet turn as the drums mesh perfectly with electric guitar before heading back to the beginning for the homestretch. It's a fitting conclusion to a quite good first impression. May the force be with them.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Jefferson Starship Soar Again with 'Mother of the Sun'

Rock goddess Cathy Richardson speaks out about honoring the legacy of Paul Kantner, songwriting with Grace Slick for the Jefferson Starship's new album, and rocking the vote to dump Trump.

Books

Black Diamond Queens: African American Women and Rock and Roll (excerpt)

Ikette Claudia Lennear, rumored to be the inspiration for Mick Jagger's "Brown Sugar", often felt disconnect between her identity as an African American woman and her engagement with rock. Enjoy this excerpt of cultural anthropologist Maureen Mahon's Black Diamond Queens, courtesy of Duke University Press.

Maureen Mahon
Music

Ane Brun's 'After the Great Storm' Features Some of Her Best Songs

The irresolution and unease that pervade Ane Brun's After the Great Storm perfectly mirror the anxiety and social isolation that have engulfed this post-pandemic era.

Music

'Long Hot Summers' Is a Lavish, Long-Overdue Boxed Set from the Style Council

Paul Weller's misunderstood, underappreciated '80s soul-pop outfit the Style Council are the subject of a multi-disc collection that's perfect for the uninitiated and a great nostalgia trip for those who heard it all the first time.

Music

ABBA's 'Super Trouper' at 40

ABBA's winning – if slightly uneven – seventh album Super Trouper is reissued on 45rpm vinyl for its birthday.

Music

The Mountain Goats Find New Sonic Inspiration on 'Getting Into Knives'

John Darnielle explores new sounds on his 19th studio album as the Mountain Goats—and creates his best record in years with Getting Into Knives.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 60-41

PopMatters' coverage of the 2000s' best recordings continues with selections spanning Swedish progressive metal to minimalist electrosoul.

Books

Is Carl Neville's 'Eminent Domain' Worth the Effort?

In Carl Neville's latest novel, Eminent Domain, he creates complexities and then shatters them into tiny narrative bits arrayed along a non-linear timeline.

Film

Horrors in the Closet: Horrifying Heteronormative Scapegoating

The artificial connection between homosexuality and communism created the popular myth of evil and undetectable gay subversives living inside 1950s American society. Film both reflected and refracted the homophobia.

Music

Johnny Nash Refused to Remember His Place

Johnny Nash, part rock era crooner, part Motown, and part reggae, was too polite for the more militant wing of the Civil Rights movement, but he also suffered at the hands of a racist music industry that wouldn't market him as a Black heartthrob. Through it all he was himself, as he continuously refused to "remember his place".

Music

John Hollenbeck Completes a Trilogy with 'Songs You Like a Lot'

The third (and final?) collaboration between a brilliant jazz composer/arranger, the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, vocalists Kate McGarry and Theo Bleckman, and the post-1950 American pop song. So great that it shivers with joy.

Music

The Return of the Rentals After Six Years Away

The Rentals release a space-themed album, Q36, with one absolute gem of a song.

Music

Matthew Murphy's Post-Wombats Project Sounds a Lot Like the Wombats (And It's a Good Thing)

While UK anxiety-pop auteurs the Wombats are currently hibernating, frontman Matthew "Murph" Murphy goes it alone with a new band, a mess of deprecating new earworms, and revived energy.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 80-61

In this next segment of PopMatters' look back on the music of the 2000s, we examine works by British electronic pioneers, Americana legends, and Armenian metal provocateurs.

Music

In the Tempest's Eye: An Interview with Surfer Blood

Surfer Blood's 2010 debut put them on the map, but their critical sizzle soon faded. After a 2017 comeback of sorts, the group's new record finds them expanding their sonic by revisiting their hometown with a surprising degree of reverence.

Music

Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.

Books

Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.

Music

'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.