For whatever reason, people love to hate on hippies. On one hand, it's easy to do, with their lax sanitation and disregard of every status quo, but still, it seems their hearts are in the right place, riding the endless highways, keeping the summer buzz going forever. Maybe people are just jealous; it also suggests an inherent uptightness in the general mood that I find rather distasteful.
Freedom On Four Wheels by Kludo White is a day in the life, or a life in a day, of a camp-van expatriate. On this short offering, merely 6 songs, Kludo White explore the many different emotions that may come up on the average day of a van dweller.
The record fairly drips sweat and condensation, while you can practically see the heat mirage of melting asphalt, as the psychedelic heat haze of "Sunrise (Summertime Sunshine)" kicks in, with its lush pop vocal harmonies, that bring to mind The Beatles' "Rain", paired with the windmill chords of The Who, or modern practitioners Guided By Voices. While a lot of people are down on guitar rock, adopting a "been there/done that" stance on the matter, Kludo White skip across this issue with a little bit of synth ambiance, updating their sound slightly, making it more futuristic. Like The Flaming Lips, but less annoying.
"On The Road Again" brings to mind classic power pop like The Eagles "Take It Easy", and Tom Petty radio hits. The fuzz guitar is sweet and lodges in the ear like warm taffy, sticks around for a while. Bare bones drumming and strummed acoustic guitar add up to more than the sum of their parts, as this has an immortal air about it.
Unfortunately, the album missteps for 2 of its five songs, with the title track coming off as heavy handed, camper van take on The Grateful Dead's "Truckin'", destined to be written in as many goofy bubble letters, and ignored by any Kludo White are hoping to convert. It DOES, however, convey the sense of driving into the sunset, with its Western country waltz, and does grow on you after a time.
And while I have been known to champion nearly every genre under the moon, from juggalos to ocean grunge, one that I have not been able to embrace fully is "dad rock", the subject of "Camper Daddy Blues", that details the troubles of harried husbands, trying to sneak away from their families for a couple of days to drink beer. While I may be in my mid-thirties, at this point, I have refrained from having kids, so maybe the charms are lost on me. I don't have to be addicted to opiates to enjoy The Velvet Underground's Heroin - it's a good song. I'm from Chicago, originally, so I'm hoping, in my heart of hearts, that this brand of Bowie electric BB King/Muddy Waters electric blues stomp would just die out already. I never did like The Blues Brothers much, though.
Things pull a U-Turn towards the right direction for "Sunset (Hawaiian Hopena)", a nice warm tropical beach to warm your heels with and stay awhile. Sweet slack key guitar makes for a legitimate luau feeling, as sunshiny chimes and piano come in from time to time. No singing, here, just an atmospheric little ditty, to leave you feeling fine.
You don't have to live in a van, or any kind of vehicle for that matter, to find great things about Freedom On Four Wheels. Forget about obligations and responsibilities; just open it up, and drive towards the sun.
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