Out Here

Rhymes with "Brit"
Hampden-Sydney Circus
Bad Haskells
Carpe Diem Records

Apparently, the Good Haskells weren't available, so Carpe Diem Records--the local label usually known for quality, home to Cafe Noir and Little Jack Melody until they got locked in the basement--rounded up this band instead. Not that you can begrudge label chief Allan Restrepo his one indie-pop band after so many forays into the avant and the adventurous; after all, everyone deserves to make a little money every now and then, and the Bad Haskells have a better shot at radio play than Cafe Noir. Then again, 99 times out of 100, popularity runs inverse to quality, so you'll lose that bet every single time.

Here's yet another local band that insists on pretending they're English--or, at the very least, Crowded House, though the Bad Haskells' abode sits empty and boarded up. This is art-pop at its most indirect and vacant, bereft of the hooks that even make it pop in the first place but loaded with the Anglo-isms that make it "art," right down to the British accent that's supposed to imply passion but signifies nothing.

At least Deep Blue Something has the hooks, and that's no compliment unless you're fishing for trout with stink-bait. The only things giving these guys angst are the rhymes--anyone pairing "atmosphere" and "hemisphere" clearly flunked creative writing in high school--and face it, pop fans: Whenever locals start singing about a "lovely maiden...sitting up for a spot of Scottish tea," it's time to think about filing deportation papers. Or hitting up Interscope Records for a long-term record deal.

Blues by the pound
On the Prowl
Pat Boyack and the Prowlers
Bullseye Blues

Don't really know how to feel about the album closer: On the one hand, "Shuck 'n' Jive" wouldn't have displeased Freddie King or T-Bone Walker; but on the other hand, it's nothing but an ad jingle for the seafood eatery on Greenville and Lovers, and it recalls those annoying beer-company radio spots that are virtually indistinguishable from the rest of the playlist. You can indeed purchase authenticity these days--for a six-pack and a pound of oysters on the half shell.

But that doesn't discount the other 11 tracks, even on an empty stomach. Boyack's a smart player schooled in the verities: part fat-bottom Chicago soul, part wide-open Texas grit, all gristle and bone culled from past masters and ground into a damned fine modern recreation. Boyack's the rare bluesman who knows technique ain't worth a damn if you don't have emotion to back it up. But the real star of this band is singer Jimmy Morello, who channels the voice of Howlin' Wolf into his pale body and spits out his lyrics like they were made of asphalt.

--Robert Wilonsky

 
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