First Appeared in The Music Box, August 2006, Volume 13, #8
Written by John Metzger
Over the course of its 12-year career, Slobberbone earned itself a solid reputation among those in the No Depression crowd. Yet, the band never caught fire in quite the way that founder Brent Best had hoped, and after bass player Brian Lane departed, Best found himself with an opportunity to tweak his creative vision. Plucking keyboard player Chad Stockslager and bassist Keith Killoren from Budapest One, he reunited with his former collaborators Jess Barr and Tony Harper (on guitar and drums, respectively) in order to form The Drams. Featuring a more polished and pop-oriented framework, the music on the groupís debut Jubilee Dive owes more to the infectious and literate alt-rock of The Call than it does to the country-tinged offerings of Bestís former outfit. In fact, only the Byrds-ian jangle of Fireflies provides a hint as to the ensembleís roots-oriented past, while Make a Book, a song buried near the end of the set, bears more than a passing resemblance to The Callís 17-year-old radio hit Let the Day Begin.
Unfortunately, though, Jubilee Dive isnít an entirely successful debut. On the one hand, The Dramsí boisterous blend of clattering guitars and driving beats is well-suited for propelling tunes such as Truth Lies Low, Hummalong, and Unhinged, and fueled by the bandís vibrant delivery and pointed lyrics, the songsí melodies prove to be irresistible. Likewise, the jaunty You Wonít Forget combined with its Beatle-esque coda You & Me, MF is an ambitiously crafted, stylistic collage that spans several decades of music history. On the other hand, whenever The Drams slows down the tempo, its material goes astray. Holy Moses, for example, reaches for Elton John, but falls far short of the mark, while When Youíre Tired is simply a plodding dirge that slowly goes nowhere in particular. Without a doubt, there is a terrific album tucked inside Jubilee Dive, but with 14 tracks pushing the effort to a tedious 68 minutes in length, The Drams has made it unreasonably burdensome to find.
Jubilee Dive 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