Bobby Bare, Jr.'s Young Criminals Starvation League
The Longest Meow
First Appeared in The Music Box, September 2006, Volume 13, #9
Written by John Metzger
Anyone who has followed the career of Bobby Bare, Jr. likely is aware that he is more than capable of penning some startlingly good material. Too frequently, however, his albums are half-baked exercises, and his better songs are hidden behind his self-indulgently quirky compositions. Consequently, he hasn’t really given his casual fans much reason to pay closer attention.
At first glance, Bare’s latest outing The Longest Meow continues to walk down this same path. The album not only opens with the sound of his band tuning up like an orchestra, but it also boasts song titles that run the gamut from the uninspired (Uh Wuh Oh) to the downright silly (Snuggling World Championships). Nevertheless, in building upon his previous endeavor From the End of Your Leash, Bare has concocted a new reality for his work, one that manages to be artistically successful without subverting his distinctive personality.
The Heart Bionic, for example, splatters the discordant blaring of a baritone saxophone against its clattering, punk-driven core, while the heartbreakingly horrific Gun Show, which arguably is the finest tune that Bare ever has penned, vividly paints the hard-luck, Southern iconography of Drive-By Truckers with the cinematic mastery of Wilco. Elsewhere, a mariachi trumpet dances its way through the introduction and conclusion to the pedal-steel kissed Back to Blue, and a cover of The Pixies’ Where Is My Mind is rendered with a desolate, aching, folk-derived flair.
Backed by a band that includes members of Lambchop (Deanna Varagona), ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead (Doni Schroader), Clem Snide (Ben Martin), and My Morning Jacket (Jim James, Carl Broemel, and Patrick Hallahan), Bare delivers his typically diverse musical concepts in a far more seamless fashion than he has in the past, and the rapid pace at which he and his ensemble worked — The Longest Meow was recorded in a mere 11 hours — lends a raw, emotional edge to the material. In effect, Bare’s bid to be taken more seriously has resulted in his most fully realized outing to date. ½
Of Further Interest...
The Longest Meow is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2006 The Music Box