Music » Critics' Picks

The BoDeans

Saturday, August 28; the Pageant


Although they hail from Wisconsin, the BoDeans fit comfortably within the Southern jangle-pop movement of the early '80s, alongside such acts as R.E.M., the Connells and Let's Active. They experienced a lot of success on college radio during this time, but the advent of grunge ate into the BoDeans' audience in the early '90s, and they stopped recording in 1996 after the double album Joe Dirt Car. Though they still played here and there following Car, their new album, Resolution, signals the BoDeans' return as an ongoing concern. And with the growing appreciation for Americana, their timing couldn't be better.

The folk sound of the Byrds is clearly the band's principal touchstone, but touches of mournful country-blues ("Two Souls") and rumbling Tex-Mex ("Wild World") coexist nicely with its strings-abetted rockers ("Marianne," "Crazy") and bubbling, Southern-pop ballads ("Sleep," "All Better Days"). Part of the quartet's appeal is the alternating and intertwined vocals of frontmen Kurt Neumann and Sam Llanas. It's not groundbreaking stuff lyrically -- nearly all the tunes trace perfunctory feelings of love and loss -- but the songs are delivered with enough passion and precision to separate them from more stereotypical sentimentality. Indeed, it's easy to imagine several songs becoming popular mixtape fodder back in the days before MP3s; we'd include songs such as the infectiously catchy "Wild World" and the loping "Sleep," with its musing, "Can we ever really forgive, 'cause we can never really forget."

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