Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Strand -- Another Season Passes

The Strand -- Another Season Passes (Kool Kat)

The old saying is that it takes a lifetime to record your debut album and a year to write the follow up. The Strand have found a way around this cliche by taking a lifetime to record the follow up to the band’s 1984 bow, Seconds Waiting, on the old Wasp label.

The Strand were a band clearly inspired by ‘60s rock, with the best songs being about two parts garage for every one part power pop. Seconds Waiting isn’t a classic, but I picked up the CD reissue just last year, and it certainly has its share of gems.

This tardy follow up is comprised of songs that date back to the mid-‘80s and songs that were written in 2007, when The Strand got back together. The liner notes say “[t]ry to guess whether the tunes were written in 1982 or 2007.” With good reason, as the songs steadfastly adhere to The Strand's basic style.

In face, this is a better album than the debut. The band sounds just a bit tighter and the musicianship has improved just enough (on the songs that were recorded recently, there’s an old recording or two here) -- not too much, as that would take away from the band’s style. Furthermore, the songs are just a bit more consistent. While there isn’t one track as awesome as the should-have-been-on-Children-Of-Nuggets minor garage-pop classic “I Understand You”, there are simply more hooks. And, to paraphrase the scary Six Flags old guy, more hooks means more fun.

The song that comes closest to that high standard is the so nice, they recorded it twice “Scared Streets”. The first version on the album is actually entitled “Scared Streets 2". The song has a sinister feel to it, an urgency that is not typical of the band’s generally more jocular approach. It’s a bit of rant, and I mean that in the best way, with great lead guitar work by Bill Lasley. The other version is a bit rawer and the choppy rhythm guitar has even more of a ska feel than on the other version. The lead vocal isn’t quite as strong, but this song may be the scarier of the two. It was a good (in)decision to keep them both on the album.

Even rawer, recording-wise, is “On Her Own”, a nice mid-tempo pop track with a guitar line (which is complimented by a keyboard part) that sounds like something off a Nothing Painted Blue album (for you two Nothing Painted Blue fans reading this). The dodgy sound makes this sound almost like a demo, but the arrangement is too developed. This song is really charming and has a very ‘they don’t play ‘em like that anymore' vibe.

Though I’m nearing the end of this review, I should mention the strong start to the album. “Rising Tide” is a swell song that is consistent with debut album Strand, but has a certain weightiness. The more innocent vibe of the ‘80s has been replaced by experience, maturity and the hard knocks that came along the way. Meanwhile, “Why’d You Call” is dumb (yet smart) pop fun, with a simple bouncing rhythm and a clever lyric about a guy who’s been dumped getting a call from an ex: “You knew that I’d return your call/and take a chance however small/that I could hear you say it’s not the end.” Anyone who’s wanted one more chance, regardless of how foolish that would be, will relate to this tune.

It’s probably asking too much for a third Strand album, but if it’s in the cards, I hope they work a little bit faster this time.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love both albums! They band have a unique style and a timeless sound that takes you back. They still sound great after all these years! They have a great talent in Jim Garner in regards to song writing. He writes on true experences in his life. I hear the band might get together this summer! Rock On!