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Published: 2010/08/16
by Randy Ray

The McLovins
Good Catch!

Triple J

There is a wonderfully relaxed vibe to the sounds and textures on Good Catch! which belie the fact that the McLovins contains three teenagers and this is their second album. Occasionally, it appears as if the band has been able to capture their dynamic live sound in the studio, but they’ve also rounded up enough material to offer an intriguing portrait of who they are, what they can do, and where they may be going.

Granted, as none of the three members—Jeffrey Howard, lead guitar, Jake Huffman, drums, percussion, steel pan, and lead vocals, and Jason Ott, bass and backup vocals—are veteran musicians, it is surprising that their confidence on these songs is so palpable. The emphasis on the disparate definitions of a jam is prevalent (tracks like “Tokyo Tea,” “Deep Monster Trance” and “Virtual Circle” contain a multitude of memorable hooks and promising detours), but the McLovins also know when to just break things down into a soft island groove (“Milktoast Man”), a wandering rhythm tethered to bubbling back beat and a righteous riff (“20 in a 35”), a somnambulist’s midnight walk down a ghostly corridor, neither too depressing, haunting, nor chilling, but reaching for some unknown bit of shadows (“Quiet Kings”), while remembering to get everyone on their feet, with heads bopping and arms flailing (“Beadhead Crystal Bugger”), and ending on a comically appropriate bluegrass out of nowhere note (the title track), which somehow manages to tie it all together in a weird and charming way for this trio of new cats on our shores.

Indeed, Good Catch! is a solid sophomore salvo from a band still establishing its identity. The McLovins appear hear to stay, and with albums like this platter, one wonders how far up the stream, river, lake, or even ocean, they can continue to expand upon their various musical ideas—do they jam? Cobble together a multitude of influences? Rein it all in to service the songs? Or, do the McLovins throw everything out, and attempt something new while never losing sight of what they appear to enjoy—good times, a clever riff, and the ability to grab hold of a crowd with a meaty jam. Time often tells a good story, and one hopes that is the case with a band with the skills and capability to explore new ideas and a fresh perspective in a genre which can sometimes be quite exciting, yet also very polarizing for certain segments of a potential audience.

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