Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Nice Outfit -- Kissing Jocelyn (2008)

The Nice Outfit -- Kissing Jocelyn (Easter)

This is a short and sharp EP from some veteran Milwaukee musicians. The music is loud, riff-oriented power pop, with some Anglophile leanings. Shall we go track-by-track? Follow me.

The title cut kicks things off, with ringing guitars (the Outfit never lacks for guitars). This mid-tempo number has a solid melody and nice harmonies, with vocals that remind me a little bit, range-wise, of Bob Geldof and Grant (The Smugglers) Lawrence. (By the way, everyone except the drummer sings here, so damned if I know who sings on this track). This is jangle supreme with ragged edges and catchy lead guitar lines that make the thing sound so darn attractive. And it’s over before you know it.

"This Time Next Year" again lets the lead guitar take you in. Then it settles into a nice little chugging rhythm that splits the difference between pub rock and early power pop. Or the latter day Replacements, if they were a bit poppier. The song conveys its mood very well, which is good, because the vocals are in the middle of the mix (not a complaint, but an observation) and not every lyric may be immediately audible.

My favorite track is "One Minute Forty-Five" which is 30 seconds longer than its title. There are more of those urgent vocals and the song starts off with a bit of rhythm guitar strum before the band kicks and gets things moving. I dig the line that gets the chorus going: "I know what life is like/a summer song." This is one of those songs that rocks without being real fast or overly loud. Instead, the band plays as if it is on the verge of exploding at any moment, without quite doing it. The Last always did this well, and this track is as good as the best of that wonderful L.A. band.

Hmm...that Last comparison really means something to me. They predated the Paisley Underground and mixed the charm of jangly folk-pop with garage rock urgency. That's not an exact fit with this band, but the end product ends up in the same wonderful place. Like The Last, all of these songs would sound swell played just on acoustic guitars. But the Outfit amps them up, infusing them with a lot of emotion. This holds true for "He Don’t Want You Now", which has a killer middle-eight and more great lead guitar work.

All of this in less than 10 minutes. I presume there’s a whole lot more good stuff in the pipeline.

1 comment:

easter said...

Hey Mike - just to let you know, our other band, Trolley just released a new CD, "Things That Shine and Glow". how can i get it to you???