This review has been a long time coming. You see, my wife
loves The Pogues. Therefore, she nicked my disc out
from under me. Well luckily, her love for Face To Face
has allowed me to secretly replace A Melody Of Retreads
in her player with Folgerís Crystals. Letís see if she notices.
ĎTis not Dylanís "Death Is Not The End" but another
Johnny Bonnel attempt to sober up Shane MacGowan.
Itís a warm and lively country tinged number to start
things out nicely. The humor of "Counterfeit Cassius
Clay" almost makes you miss the smart wordplay. The eighties
Plimsouls chorus and slithering guitar work weave with
gritty Americana. Former Camper Van Monks of Doom guitarist
Greg Lisher again surpasses anything Cracker
has squeezed out. Surely, "Mountain Tomb" marks
the point that the Bastards will secure a spot on Austin
City Limits. Spry fiddling from Darius Koski floats
sweetly above the jangle guitar. The picnic vocal harmonies
are sleep-inducing folk. "Gene And Jean" gives the
inside story of two American kids doing the best they can.
The warbling organ is particularly pleasing. Musically unobtrusive,
it seems to be comfortable in any era. It leaves room for
the journey to unfold on a personal level. Bonnel exudes a
natural compassion while he skillfully packs in stunning gems
like; A pillsy gleam wears Jean while seeking to be pierced
like a sad clone. The whisky drinker, "Wasting Away"
introduces fifties style standup bass and the rare Slim
Pickens reference. (Bonus points) "Between The Lines"
has the skiffle flavor of early Beatles with more worthwhile
lyrics. You can imagine Paul and John bopping
along to it despite the lack of absurdities. A dark turn comes
with "Afterthought." The mixture of electrified
folk with bouncing staccato Irish rhythms is thrilling. Bonnel
skips threateningly through the song like a funny-dressed
gangster in "Warriors." The menacing Chris Rea
surfabilly guitar meets Jerry Jeff Walker songwriting.
In "Bitter Old Son" the old man gets his harsh legacy
thrown back in his face. Itís delivered in a back porch Dillards
bluegrass that Pops is sure to understand. Max Butler
provides a killer mandolin to sweeten the pill.
Though it most certainly takes place by the Bay, both subject
and style of "Trollyís Sum" taste modern English.
(No not the Ď80ís wavers) The last folk remnant is Koskiís
accordion. All else is steeped in inner city Jam story
telling. The background ends in a round to nail down the message.
Back to the Emerald Isle and The Pogues, "Waltzing
In My Spew" is full of belly laughs as an empty belly
can offer. Step dancers will have to keep an eye on the floor.
Pure seventies country comes home to, "Wait By The Door."
Koski turns a clever phrase when he sees The peephole by
the door, the love behind it may not let him in. Later
The people at the doorÖtheyíre there to greet me when its
time to carry on. Seems C.S. Lewis wasnít the only
one who took comfort at the alehouse. "Grave Meí seems
to mix Colorblind James Experience with rockabilly
breaks and Adam Ant snotty backing vocals. Somehow
the mysterious blend works. Speedy tandem vocals grace "The
Killing Kind," adding yet another texture to the project.
"Aberfan" turns a grandfatherís Welsh poem into
an appropriately Levelers/New Model Army sounding tribute.
Gorgeous and tear-jerking, Koskiís fiddle mourns children
lost in a landslide. Not to end on such a dour note, "An
Otherwise Sunny Day" stomps its cowboy boot to Butlerís
bright pedal steel. Sure itís about drinking and losing your
wife, but in a celebratory way.
Retreads shows the Bastards defining their style with
less obvious mimicry than Our Fathers Sent Us. And while I
enjoy it slightly less than that previous release, the superb
quality of songwriting is on the level with that of Leonard
Cohen, Nick Cave and Van Morrison. Koski
and Bonnel are extremely talented and prolific. They are rapidly
compiling a body of work will drive you to think.
On a scale of poetic justices: One being Dropkick Murphys
borrowing from them, and ten being surpassing their idols,
A Melody Of Retreads And Broken Quills rates 7.5 -
tricking my wife into Irish two-step-dancing.
ó Ewan Wadharmi
- Death Is Not The End
- Counterfeit Cassius Clay
- Mountain Tomb
- Gene And Jean
- Wasting Away
- Between The Lines
- Bitter Old Son
- Trolly's Sum
- Waltzing In My Spew
- Wait By The Door
- Grave Me
- The Killing Kind
- An Otherwise Sunny Day
in the webboard
e-mail the chief
Like this article?
it to a friend!