Friday, July 26, 2013

Review: B.A. Canning Band - Normal Life

I retired from being in bands about 6 months ago. It's less of a retirement and more along the lines of what old baseball players do, riding out the season until someone comes a knockin on their door for their services. It's not that I can't or don't want to play, its just.....well, the area I live in doesn't produce many worthwhile artists I'd try to attach myself to. I feel like that would change if there was a band like B.A. Canning Band around.

These gents boast they play unconventional songs in a traditional manner. For once, I'm inclined to agree with a bands self-description. They're very much rooted in indie rock, I mean, just look at the album art. I wouldn't pick up an album like that and expect to hear an artist similar to Cannibal Corpse. But indie rock itself is so vague that just mentioning they play it makes me scratch my own head. They remind me a bit of The Decemberists, if, you know, they were on mescalin or something (Maybe they are). But even being likened to The Decemberists means these guys have a craft to their songwriting, and not many people try to add any craft into song-making anymore. 

"Under Tutelage (For Ernest Becker)" supports my claim on this. First off, it reminded me of "The Mariners Revenge Song" by The Decemberists. It doesn't copy it musically, but stylistically, presenting a 6 minute ballad for an opening track. Maybe no one will think the same way I do on this song, and that's fine, because, as close as it sounds to complaining, I'm actually applauding the band. I had a lot of fun with the track, and I feel its not only a perfect opener for the album, but a fairly strong song within its own right. 

"Ode And Burgeonings" is as close as they come to conventionality in Normal Life. It's a mixture of folk and country, combining the best of both genres to make what I feel is the strongest track on the album. It's really a terrific tune, and I don't like to gush about things much. "Old Time Boys" and "Ballad Of Richard Collier" feel similar to "Ode", but not as finely tuned. They're good in their own right, but when a track like "Ode And Burgeonings" affected me as much as it did, the other tracks on the record pail in comparison. That doesn't make me give the album a lower grade in my mind, I'm just fussy because it's so rare I find a track I like to listen to repeatedly. 

"Blackened Times" and "Popcorn And Beer" made me wonder, if only for a minute, if the album I was listening to was a compilation. The band suddenly emerge from their safe indie rock home to give us a few tracks with bar rock intros that go just as quickly as they had come. Once you get past the puzzling intros, the songs are quite good, but it still made me feel as if I leaned a bit too far back in my chair and had someone push me over. It woke me up, that's for sure.

"In The Forest" plays like their most commercially acceptable song. It feels like one of those tunes that's in the preview trailer to your favorite TV shows new upcoming season. That might have the bite of an insult to it, but there's a place for songs like that, and I often come to like the music that plays in trailers like that (The Walking Deads choices of songs in trailers being chief among them).

Normal Life was a nice album to check out, and I'm glad I didn't go ahead and write the other review I was going to because this one was a worthwhile endeavor. Kudos to these guys for trying something new with the same styles of music we've heard day in and day out, because, frankly, I'm sick of them. - Shane

Check out the album here!

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