The Greenhornes, December 6, 2010, Troubadour

GreenhornesThere’s something a little academic about The Greenhornes, with so many familiar musical, lyrical and stylistic references crammed in you half expect a bibliography of citations in the liner notes. Take the opener of their new LP, Four Stars (spelled out as “****” in a cute wink to critics) “Saying Goodbye” which blends of Who, Byrds, Beatles and probably others I’m not getting. But this is fine, not only because majority of new rock these days is uninspired and brain dead, but because the Greenhornes’ presentation on disc and on stage is so unpretentious and feel-good that you don’t begrudge them for being high IQ rock nerds. These are just guys, who, having heard far more records recorded between, say ’67 and ’77, than you ever will, just want to make records and play you some tunes while you stand there and drink beer.

Tonight, the near-sold out Troubadour turns out a healthy range of styled up cool kids and dressed down uncool adult types (you know who you are). And more than a few gentlemen that, let’s just say, would fit right in Daniel Clowes comics. Main G-man Craig Fox straddles a certain line between rock star and civiilan himself. His guitar and singing are nailing it, but his still stage demeanor is reserved and calm, almost passive. I don’t doubt there’s passion in him, but it’s just not his personality to be all that demonstrative. Ironically, this probably endears him to his crowd all the more. That these classic tunes just flow out of this normal guy (just like us!) who doesn’t need to be jumping around in a, uh, jumpsuit. The ubiquitous bespectacled Jack Lawrence holds down low end matters on bass, Patrick Keeler, is tight and energetic on drums, and a touring keyboardist (whose name I need to wiki) on soul organ for that extra touch. The sum of the parts brings more than enough energy to get the job done, all with a certain no-nonsense workman-like ethic about it all. The short and sweet set is heavy on “Four Stars” which, when aired live almost feels like a career-spanning greatest hits set rather than a cohesive new record given the range of styles it incorporates–soulful slow burners, jangly 60’s-ish pop numbers, garage riffs, bluesy stormers, anthemic stadium ballads–all of it together adding up to Greenhornes.

The Greenhornes |