Lonely in My Members Only
T.J. Simon's #20 album for 2003
First Appeared at The Music Box, October 2003, Volume 10, #10
Written by T.J. Simon
Easy Tiger, an up-and-coming band from Chicago, specializes in jaunty pop numbers built upon the acoustic guitar of Dan Wean and the vocals of Russell Baylin. On its debut release Lonely in My Members Only, the group sounds quite a bit like O.A.R. without the reggae influences or extended jams. Itís the kind of music that sounds perfect at a college bar or an urban block party. Light, peppy, and super-catchy, the album prevails primarily on the basis of its up-tempo tunes, which include I Put You out Like a Cigarette and I Donít Feel Good. The standout song King of Summer recalls a cool, Will Hoge single with a great acoustic-guitar lead. Weanís guitar also does a nice mimicry of The Allman Brothers Band on Good for Now.
It seems that some ornate instrumentation is mandatory these days for indie pop groups on the rise, and Easy Tiger complies by including cello on Jeff Buckley and horn arrangements on Eighty Eight. Even when stripped down to the bare essentials of two voices in harmony with acoustic guitars, Wean and Baylin excel, coming off like a young Lowen & Navarro on Typical Day. While the band succeeds in spades on the upbeat party-pop tracks, unfortunately the ballads fall a bit flat. For Your Pleasure wasnít at all pleasurable, and Mexico strikes a bit too close to Bon Joviís Wanted Dead or Alive. All is forgiven, though, when Easy Tiger trots out the glorious My Sweet Mine. Itís an amazingly playful song invoking delightful í70s-style pop in the tradition Harry Nilsson or any guilty pleasure artist enjoyed in the company of oneself.
All in all, Lonely in My Members Only is a real triumph for an unsigned band from Chicago ó or anywhere, for that matter. Every now and then, a regional bar band (The Spin Doctors, Hootie and The Blowfish, etc.) will bubble to the surface and pierce the mainstream consciousness to the delight of fans and the consternation of uptight music critics. If Easy Tiger can pull off such a breakthrough with its relentlessly hooky and unpretentious debut, it will be a well-deserved ascension.
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2003 The Music Box