DEAD LUKE Meanwhile....In The Midwest LP

It’s such a fine line between stupid and clever. So said David St. Hubbins and Nigel Tufnel.  For some reason, this quote has relevance while wrapping the heart-brain around Dead Luke’s second album.

You wonder if the whole “swirling reverbed, layered” sonic-psychedelic Dagwood sandwich has run its course, if stuff like this is gonna be emblematic of the time, as much as all those mid-90's poppy punk songs that would start and stop and start and stop then slow down halfway through then bring it back around once more with feeling is emblematic of that time. (And no, that shit didn’t exactly transcend the ages….) Nowadays, it's neo-psychedelia hottubbing with low fidelity: The riffy foundation, then the well-timed layers. That formula. That approach. Will it hold up? Does this hold up? You wonder if this would be exciting or boring live, as the songs push beyond the five minute mark.  You can’t help but wonder what it would sound like if there were drums, played by a decent drummer, tossed into the mélange.

Stupid? Clever? The fine line between the two?

Well…Meanwhile, in the Midwest, it isn’t a bad album. There are moments when the aforementioned sonic-psych Dagwood sandwiches hit you just right. The maracas, the finger snaps, they set the mood, start the trance. The bass lines on Side Two shine and twist, perhaps even foiling the 2-3 chord guitar strums. (Strangely enough, arguably the best song on here, “Take My Hand,” is also the shortest, accomplishing in the 2:30 mark more than what’s achieved in many of the (much) longer songs, making fantastic (and economical) use of the resources and approach. )

But it isn’t a great album either. Often, the songs feel like an unedited book. You wonder why this part or that part is where it is, or if the listener is going to get as high from the music as the musicians. When you hit the payoff, you wonder if all that buildup was worth it. And when the build-up is reached, you wonder why the songs keep going, and going. (And should anyone anywhere ever cover “I’m a Man” ever again?)

Jeez. I don’t know. An album like this shouldn’t be provoking so many questions…. maybe it’s just for roasting a bone and escaping capital-L Life for awhile. Maybe so…but the doubts…they linger…. [Moon Glyph]

-Brian Costello

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  1. Alive Luke says:

    Right on. It's about time everyone wises up to these cheap, reverby gimmicks.

  2. rocka tolla says:

    This is a great record.

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