Real Radio – The BreakfastThis Band Makes Me Feel – Acetate
Horizon Music Group 1125
Sanctuary Records 06076-84742-2
Life is a carnival, yes (The Band, anyone?), but it's also a lot like the majority of music discussed on this website: it's improvised. You wake up and, immediately, you're working off the cuff: there's no time to choose your words too carefully, think too long about what you'll have for lunch, or decide which Phish t-shirt goes best with your torn corduroys. You live in the moment (well, ideally), and you move on.
And, usually, your choices aren't perfect. Far from it, in fact. But as you 'practice' more and more (e.g. grow older), you learn what works, and what doesn't, and your 'gigs' start to cook.
And sometimes, they cook. For those of us who aren’t on tour six nights a week, this might be the night you get hired at a great job, snag a girlfriend or really nail a midterm. But whether you’re in a globetrotting rock group or writing for a music website, you only cook when you’re comfortable.
And you're only comfy once you've decided, and accepted, what works for you, and who you really are. That’s when you stop trying to please everyone and, in turn, you please everyone that counts.
Real Radio, in turn, neglects to do that. The fourth record from Connecticut jammers The Breakfast just won’t jam.
Which is a shame, because that's what they do best, and they're damn good at it. The slogan on their new poster reads "Changing The Airwaves With Their 4th Album" and what I'm left wondering is why they want to do this.
Sure, money is nice, and a song on the radio should mean some big bucks, but if it means discarding the strongest element of your sound, then is it worth it? There's lots of talk recently about "wanking," and looking to escape the "jamband" moniker, because it's got a negative connotation all of a sudden, but let's imagine, for a moment, that it's okay to jam.
I mean, there are lots of pitfalls to it. It's self-indulgent. It can go on for too long. But I'm willing to take that risk and so are countless other music fans out there. Tim Palmieri is a killer guitarist and I want to hear him rip. Maybe even for a long time. And I don't care if it's on the radio or not.
I guess most people get bored during solos, at shows or on record, but I don't. I'm usually bored during the head of a tune; I can't wait to see what happens during 'recess.'
Which is why Real Radio is a real disappointment. The jams are few and far between, and ‘radio-friendly’ is unfriendly to people who don’t like the radio. To their credit though, the jams that are present are sweet.
They take their time on "Gravity," for instance, and the results really add up. Jordan Giangreco's quiet piano and Palmieri's ethereal guitar meander about tastefully until it's time to rage.
That's when the organ swirls, the guitar shreds, the bass tightens up, the drums beat like Jack Kerouac.
And it rages. "Sleeping Beauty" gets slammin' for a bit, too; it explores drum-n-bass and dub, genres that won't "change the airwaves" anytime soon.
Acetate's new record, on the other hand, could end up on the airwaves (is that a good thing?). This Band Makes Me Feel, courtesy of Dave Schools’ new trio featuring Ben Mize of Counting Crows, is an unabashed pop statement.
And that statement's unabashedly derivative. The disc reeks of Nirvana, and Alice in Chains, and lots of grunge era-type stuff. And that would be just fine if Dave Schools were in a band out of Seattle, and the year was 1991. But it's not, and the record is boring. We've heard it before.
So, a message in parting: Dave Schools, The Breakfast, please play jammy music. It may not get you on the radio, and it might be "wanking," but it's really good. Keep doin' that.