Reviews

Help Wanted Nights

Author: Mark Jenkins
10/05/2007 | Washington Post | www.washingtonpost.com | Live Show Preview
"HELP WANTED NIGHTS" is a concept album about the doleful regulars at a small-town bar, and the Good Life's singer-songwriter, Tim Kasher, saves his brisker compositions for his punkier other band, Cursive. So the album's gloomy opening track, "On the Picket Fence," seems to portend a whole set of crying-in-their-beer laments. Fortunately, things get a little livelier on subsequent numbers.
Most of these vignettes reflect the booze-inspired revelation that life and love are a drag. "It's never easy / But we'll make it through" announces "Heartbroke," and that's about as encouraging as Kasher's Nashville-style lyrics get. But the Omaha quartet does sometimes wrap the bad news in memorable melodies and propulsive arrangements, giving a '60s-pop sparkle to such tunes as "A Little Bit More" and "Keely Aimee." When the bass can strut as lustily as it does on the latter song, romance must be worth one last try.
One of Luke Temple's principal instruments is the banjo, but he's no latter-day Pete Seeger. Although a few songs on the Brooklyn troubadour's inventive second album, "Snowbeast," wouldn't sound out of place at a traditional folk festival, others suggest Weimar-era cabaret or psychedelic-era acid-pop. Recorded on an eight-track in Temple's home, the set features falsetto vocals, raucous electronics, chiming percussion and unexpected harmonics. The opening "Saturday People" sets the tone, balancing stark form and lush texture and taking several abrupt turns before concluding with a marching-band coda. Such extravagant juxtapositions may be too weird for some ears, but at least "Snowbeast" is never routine.
Help Wanted Nights

Help Wanted Nights

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Help Wanted Nights

Help Wanted Nights

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