Years ago I remember reading somewhere or hearing secondhand a reply that Replacements front man Paul Westerberg gave an interviewer who had asked him why the band hadn’t picked up and moved to either New York or Los Angeles, why in fact the band had stayed anchored in Minneapolis.
Westerberg answered something to the effect that if someone shouldn’t have to move somewhere in order to become something, that if they were good enough they would eventually make it to some extent or another. Having been born and raised in the Midwest myself, Westerberg’s theory of success has always been something that has stuck with me, for what shapes one’s perception, one’s art, one’s life more than their environs.
The catalyst for these reminiscences on place are a direct effect of listing to First Time, Long Time, the first commercial release from the self-described “Cleveland lifers” Lawton Brothers. On First Time, Long Time one hears that classic rock meets college rock appeal of bands like Hüsker Dü and early period R.E.M. It’s refreshing in a way because it seems this sound, so lauded at one point seems to have all but been forgotten these days, in favor of genres such as folk and shoegaze which have lately seemed to have been remarketed into the mainstream.
First Time, Long Time was recorded at Waterloo Studio in Brecksville, Ohio with Todd Tobias, the man who, in my humble yet widely shared opinion, has worked with one of the greatest rock bands of the last thirty years, Dayton, Ohio lo-fi maestros Guided By Voices. One hears echoes of Guided By Voices on the crash and bang opener “Thunderclouds” with its driving guitars, crisp hard pounding cymbal crashes and plain spoken vocals that slightly resembles “Postal Blowfish.” Next on “All World Office Romance” a title that could be called Pollardesque the lazy lo-fi grit guitars and well noted drum fills sound as though they’ve been unearthed from a time capsule.
The album’s closer “17 Wolves” is the best song on the record. Its construction should be a roadmap, which Lawton Brothers should follow for future efforts. Its catchy and jangly hooks are precisely made ‘90s underground rock the saving grace of that decade’s musical output still relevant today
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