I talk a lot of crap about a lot of music, especially mainstream music, the kind that wins awards on television and keeps so many people in business and so many people who don’t want to think about having to search out for good music, happy. Normally a snarky remark like this from me would be dealt in total jest, as long as the subject of the remark was something other than music or painting or books.
I don’t give too much of a shit about much else, at least not enough to voice my opinion about it. However here on these pages I am asked to give my opinion on what I hear. In fact I am required to give my opinion. I feel I am fair in my judgments and I do harbor a soft spot in my heart for a well-written pop tune most especially. I don’t care if you’re a boy or girl band, if you wear too much gel in your hair or wind up with your pants down in the papers: if you can write a catchy tune you’re ok in my book.
So with this being said I felt like a pig in shit while listening to Where Have All the Good Folk Gone by Melbourne alt rockers The Barebones. The quintet owes an ode to Wilco, who they channel and mirror throughout much of Where Have All the Good Folk Gone, but it’s early a.m. alt-country pop Wilco so it’s both okay and, to me at least, a walk down memory lane of those early years. To their credit The Barebones don’t sound like copycats in the least, but a band that has done their homework on alt-country and pop sensibilities and they hit the mark nearly every time.
Where Have All the Good Folk Gone opens with the upbeat drone rocker “Holding On” a tune which the band and singer Matt Simmons harken into that good old alt-country rock that Wilco had so popularized back in the early oughts. This gritty fight song mentality continues on the title track especially with its bluesy guitar riffs and the blue collar lyrical call outs like “will you take a stand or quietly just stand back.” The Wilco-ness, in their most lapidary form comes through again on the heartfelt “The Only Way” on the alt-country heart bleeding “Sorry for Leaving.”
The Barebones aren’t afraid to pull out the rock either as they do on the organ rocker “Strangely Alone” and the sunny sounding but lyrically sad “Reach” which sounds like a pop-radio hit if I’ve ever heard one. Though by far their poppiest hit “Wandering Blind” sounded like the best direction for The Barebones. It’s raucous in a bluesy Stones type of all. Where Have All the Good Folk Gone is an exquisite piece of alt-country pop rock. You should be so lucky to hear such pop perfection in your lifetime.
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