Sunday, August 19, 2012

A Great One from Last Year

Rainy Day Saints.  All These Strange Ghosts.
Get Hip Records, 2011.   Rainy Day Saints:

This came out back in October, but we’re playing catch-up with the new blog.  Besides, we want everybody to know about the good stuff.  I could call this band a lot of different things including garage rock, psychedelic rock, and indie rock, and all these designations would be right.  But what they really are is a damned fine Cleveland band that put out a truly fine, tight, listenable, grooving album.  I don’t say such things lightly.  I’m of boomer age, I’ve listened to rock music for 50 years, and it takes a lot for me to be impressed by a contemporary band.  I’m impressed.


They take a bit of a kitchen sink approach to rock.  They borrow (or steal, as Dylan would say) ideas from other bands, but what they do with their influences doesn’t sound the least bit derivative.  Sure, I hear the Who, Cheap Trick, a bit of Sweet, (maybe even the Seeds) and lots of other sources, but that hardly matters.  Somebody else will hear other bands, real or not, but what really matters is what they did with all of this sound they produce.  And what they did was marvelous.

Dave Swanson seems to be the busiest of the group, having written the songs and played a whole batch of instruments, but it’s clear that everyone is upfront and contributing at some point or other.  Keith Pickering provides some great lead guitar on a few tracks, and Marianne Friend gives us some sweet saxophone interludes at just the right time.  Vocals are appropriately rough, but filled with harmonies that work just right for the gritty but psychedelic sound they’re going for.  Bombastic keyboards take us into a congealed garage/art rock place that the Brits sometimes try to pull off, but don’t.  There isn’t anything I would call a ballad until the last track.

Most songs are mid-to-uptempo and strong in melody and lyrics, with a good deal of musical complexity, mostly in the form of layering of studio tracks to produce a thicker sound.
The title track takes a basic Bo Diddley beat and ads surf/psychedelic swirls and a great guitar solo, all while sounding like music from the old Munsters TV show.  “This is Not the Way Back Home” is a strong rocker with lots of forward motion and drive.  My favorite track is “All Gone Wrong,” a garage rock styling that suggests a lost song by the Seeds. I could go on, because there are no clinkers here.  My one complaint is the lack of a lyric sheet, since the singing is not always crystal clear. Good variety, excellent musicianship, and a fine feel for what’s important in rock make this one my vote for best Northeast Ohio rock album of the past couple of years.

Personnel:  Dave Swanson (guitars, drums, vocals, keyboards, bass, percussion), Brian P. McCafferty (bass, mandolin, harmonies, accommodations), Marianne Friend (saxophones, harmonies, glamor, medicine), Keith Pickering (guitar), with assisting musicians.
Tracks:  Where Are You?, Underneath the Dreamer’s Moon, She’s Long Gone, Memories, Lose My Mind, All Gone Wrong, All these Strange Ghosts, Sylvester Greene, Reward, This is Not the Way Back Home, Gone, Everybody Shows the Way, Where I Stand.

The Grand Wazoo

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