Sunday, March 31, 2013

American Stroboscope

Deadbeat Poets.  American Stroboscope.

Pop Detective Records, 2012.   

This should be the Deadbeat Poets breakthrough album, if there’s any justice in the world of rock music. Sad to say, there is little of that to be found.  I suppose you could call these guys a supergroup, or a Northeast Ohio supergroup anyway.  Terry Hartman was a member of the Backdoor Men, and Frank Secich was in Blue Ash, while Pete Drivere and John Koury were formerly part of the Infidels.  In any case, they’ve paid their dues, and they’re damned fine musicians who have coalesced into a great band.  You can hear elements of some of their former bands here, along with a lot of other stuff.  They’re described as a power pop band, but they’re one that infuses elements of punk, glam rock, country rock, and anything else they happen to like.  That hardly describes them, because they’ve got their own unique style:  quirky, with lots of time changes and excellent vocal harmonies. It's not terribly profound, but it's really good.

This is their their fourth, or perhaps fifth release since 2007, depending on whether you count EPs.  I haven’t heard most of the others, but I did listen to Notes from the Underground, listed as their first.  I liked it, but was sort of lukewarm at the time.  But that was their first effort from six years ago, and this album is another story entirely.  The opening track is pure dynamite.  “Throw the Bums Out” is a pounding pub rocker worthy of Ian Hunter, and written by Hartman.  Things don’t quiet down, but change gears with “I Understand Alright,” a throwback to an earlier time, with an eclectically shifting beat that shuffles and bobs along.  That eclecticism continues with “Jennyburg Hill,” also written by Secich, in a catchy pop vein that rocks out in the bridge.  Drivere shines here with some scorching guitar work.  

John Koury’s only song contribution, “2000 Miles Away from You,” is a solid piece of Americana, with a touch of Chuck Berry and catchy hooks.  “A Personal Business Matter” continues Secich’s fusion of pop and driving guitar, while the closer is another Hartman tune, closer to Springsteen in tone than the opener, with a real Midwest feel.

The only drawback to this album is that there are only seven tracks.  That’s not enough.  I want more.  I also don’t know what the title means.  A stroboscope is a machine that captures moving objects or lights as a series of still pictures, making the movement appear stationary. This makes little sense, since the Deadbeat Poets show constant movement here, but if they want to call it that it's fine with me.

Personnel:  Terry Hartman (rhythm guitar, vocals), Frank Secich (bass, lead vocals), Pete Drivere (lead guitar, vocals), John Koury (drums, vocals), Unknown keyboard player, who’s really good.
Tracks:  Throw the Bums Out, I Understand Alright, Jennyburg Hill, 2000 Miles Away from You, Who’s Hieronymus Bosch & Why is He Saying These Terrible Things About Me?, A Personal Business Matter, Down with the Lonely Boys.

The Grand Wazoo

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