I found this album at a time when I was about to withdraw from Berklee college of Music because of a throat injury. The timing is fuzzy. Those years where I limped along playing once a week and/or stopped playing entirely are a blur. For real. Very surreal.

I remember when I first heard this band. I was sitting in the den of my grandmother’s house in Dorchester, after a long day on the courts, reading a basketball magazine. Something kept tugging at me and eventually drew my attention away from the article. It was the music video for “Round Here”. Yes, I was rocking VH1. I used to like having music television on. But I digress.

Emotion is the thing that draws me to nearly everything, whether it be music, art, Skateboarding, or even nature. When I’m taking photos, sneaking around for wildlife photos or setting up for a landscape, i’m feeling my surroundings. I feel everything around me, especially nature, and it’s always been that way. In general, if I don’t feel something, I probably won’t be interested long….especially in. music. This is what pulled me out of that magazine. Emotion. This album, from beginning to end, is ALL emotion.

I probably like it so much because it hit at a time when I needed it. I was in a pretty dark place as I watched all my skill on saxophone eroding with nothing to be done about it. While I wasn’t always aware of the pain inside of me, because I basically suppressed it, focused on basketball and working out, and became a hardened blunt instrument, there were mounting emotions building within me.  So when I heard this song, I think it somehow massaged it’s way inside of me, and touched those emotions. I went right out and bought the cd. “Round Here” was the first track so the album had my full attention, but I didn’t expect for it to hold my attention to the extent that it did. I was riveted the whole album.

There are so many things that I have grown to live by and seek out within my music and ultimately my life.

Simplicity. Something I strive to maintain in my life, and apply in my music. This album is so simple. It’s guitars, organ, bass, drums and vocals…with a touch of accordion. It needs nothing else. This gets it done. There are moments when everything drops out, and the only thing making noise is a triad on the organ…or sometimes it’s just guitar. There is no over production here, and I love it. I live for it.  In fact, musicians are often surprised when they hear me in situations that I express myself more technically, whether  it be because the music/setting demands it, or I choose to express myself that way. A lot of the reason for that is because I will almost always gravitate towards the simplest way to say something, with the greatest effect, rather than the opposite…which is trying to find the more technical/condensed route. Like anyone, it’s how I feel that day that determines how I play, although sometimes musical surroundings will change my vibe. For me, I need to be present and in touch emotionally to really be inside my music. No bullshit in my playing. I hate it. That leads to the next thing that I love about this album.

Sincerity. The emotions and vibes on this are so thick you could bath in them. Immerse yourself in it, and listen to it through a great pair of headphones, or kick it through a REAL stereo system (not some damn bluetooth speaker) and you’ll hear and feel what I’m talking about. It’s all just so real and from the heart. There’s so much emotion here that if it weren’t so sincere, it might not work. It might be cheesy. This album captures so many emotions…the feelings of a small town…the warmth and comfort….but also foreboding sense that you’ll most likely never get out of it, and if you do, you’ll never be the same after doing so. There’s pain, loneliness, but also joy. The lyrics, almost more like poetry, convey so much. The entire spectrum is there if you’re open to it. It’s deep.

Dynamics. When someone screams all the time, you tune them out right? No one wants that. The human element is always changing. Sometimes you don’t feel like talking. Sometimes things mean more when they are said at a lower volume…like when you pissed off your parents so much that they don’t even yell….THAT’S when you know they’re really serious. Other times, you need to scream to get things across. This is real life. I have always believed that the greatest music achieves this level of expression, and this album does exactly that.

I don’t listen to this album all the time. I save it. It’s like a really great bottle of wine. I don’t want to waste it. I also don’t always want to feel some of the emotions that it touches. I don’t mean this to say that I become dark when it’s on, but it does run the risk of touching some things that I don’t always want to touch. My sister passed away so long ago in August, and for this reason my mother won’t listen it it. Things like that…things that if touched upon on the wrong day, can put you in a mood. You might immediately think this is a bad thing. It isn’t. It’s just a tell tale sign that someone achieved total expression, in a manner capable of bringing others along the journey. This is what we play music for really. That type of success and sincerity.

Most people know this album, and not everyone likes this band…I get it…but if you haven’t heard it, check it out. Maybe some of things I’ve said will make you approach it differently.

Be well.



Published On: December 11th, 2023 / Categories: Uncategorized /