Review Summary: Honest music, pure and simple.
I abhor ironic covers of pop songs by indie groups. You can hear their smug little smirks as they sing 50 Cent. We’re all in on their little joke: this music is stupid, but we can play it and still be cool. When Obadiah Parker plays Outkast’s “Hey Ya,” something else happens. This campy, awesome, overplayed (not to me, I don’t listen to young people radio stations) song takes on a level of ruminative melancholy. It is played with a refreshing sincerity. Both versions are among my very favorite songs, for entirely different reasons. It’s pretty cool.
The song garnered a lot of success on Youtube, and in an indirect way (Ted sang a similar song on Scrubs, and I had to find it), it introduced me to the band. On the wings of “Hey Ya,” I decided to check out the rest of this great live CD. I was more than surprised. “Hey Ya” was sentimental, emotional, and beautiful; these are qualities that the CD showcases in a number of songs. But his band also has the potential for great groove, with bouncy bass that plays well throughout the whole CD, soulful acoustic guitar licks from Matt Weddle to match his own great voice, bluesy keys, and even a horn! Not a backup horn, but a jazzed up trumpet that is given its very own solo in album highlight “Burnt Offerings.” It’s a good solo.
The CD is very engaging, and Weddle is a great frontman. He has a wonderful rasp, but also the sensitive quality of a great alt/indie singer. He definitely has the potential to become something big. There are two versions of the band, and sometimes they meld. The CD kicks off with their first incarnation: acoustic folk funk They get a horn in there, Weddle growls, and his guitar provides enough percussion that they can groove without a drummer. It’s incredibly fun, and the band gels really well during these songs. On the third song, following Rob Gordon’s guide to mixtapes, they slow things down. Weddle croons and the keys get some more action. Then on some songs, the band blows me away with the mixture of the two. For instance, “Fall Back” starts off with slow and introspective, it builds and builds, then Weddle whispers onetwothreefour, and the whole band kicks into high gear.
I’d offer criticism, but the band provides such an honest, warm atmosphere that I feel bad. The guitar goes to simplistic chording when they slow down, like the high school kid who brings his guitar to school to play at recess. The cover of “Idioteque” isn’t great. Hm, that’s about it.
The band mixes a great level of sincerity with great song writing. The choruses are great, the sound is great, and the heart is there. However, something that bothered me was the audience. The applause is subdued, or not as loud as I would have been I guess. They clap after the trumpet solos, they clap at the end of songs, but it’s all too soft to match my own enthusiasm. Maybe it’s because they were in a small venue, maybe it’s because their listeners are a quiet sort of people. I’d like to think it’s because the music left shaking and wobbly, a breath away from speechless.