Out Here

By Zac Crain
The more things change...
Limbo Cafe
Ghostlight Records

It's great when a band experiments with the standard guitar-bass-drums approach to rock; even better when it's more than listen-able. While Limbo Cafe's latest offering succeeds at subverting the traditional arrangement (violin and tribal percussion figure prominently), the album never really pays off, leaving the feeling that the record is nothing more than a collection of Dave Matthews outtakes.

Where the album fails is in the songwriting. Lyrics like "Fist curled up like a fetus" and "You're like falling asleep in a hot car" do not make the songs interesting, especially when they are sung over the same melody that every song on the album seems to share. Limbo Cafe is the Wesley Willis Fiasco of artsy roots rock, except Willis is at least (unintentionally) funny.

After six years together as a band, Limbo Cafe should know its strengths. The band apparently doesn't, because one of its strongest points--Donna Weir's voice--is severely underutilized. Her voice has an ethereal, otherworldly quality that transforms average songs into pretty good ones. With this batch of songs, such a quality should not go overlooked. But drummer Patrick Weir handles the majority of the vocal duties, and his karaoke-bar voice can only transform average songs into pretty bad ones. Maybe Limbo Cafe's live show is better.

Eleanor Digs Me
Eleanor Digs Me
Q.I.D. Records

Eleanor Digs Me is the new project from Tye Robison, drummer for The Nixons when the band was on Dragon Street Records--before it became almost inescapable on Dallas radio. However, anyone expecting to hear the familiar Nixons sound on this record is out of luck (although, in actuality, anyone looking for the familiar Nixons sound should cut out the middleman and instead buy Pearl Jam records). Eleanor Digs Me occupies the space where quirky pop and white-boy funk intersect.

It's an odd combination, but it works--at least for the first half of the album, which shows Eleanor Digs Me at its best: sweet harmonies, abrupt rhythm changes, a little wah guitar. But every song after that is the kind of filler that a young band like this should not be putting out--the kind of songs The Nixons make into entire albums.

The band should have released this album as a good four-song EP and gone back in the studio, instead of releasing a very average full-length rife with ideas that don't pan out. This is a pretty good starting point, though, and, hell, anyone who leaves The Nixons deserves nothing but the best.

--Zac Crain

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