I JUST NEED SOMEONE TO TELL ME HOW TALL I AM
By Tony Horkins
Formed in the UK but based in Los Angeles, Minibar has all the poses of a stereotypical modern folk-rock band: the weary vocals, the surging electric guitars, the popping snare drum, the Byrds-inspired harmonies. Even the back cover of their third CD, Desert After Rain, featuring an anonymous map dissolving into a faded, sullen photo, runs the risk of falling into a cliché.
Fortunately, they also have the talent to pull it off. Echoing mid-'90s works by The Jayhawks and The Wallflowers (whose Rami Jaffee plays organ on two songs), Minibar combine "After The Gold Rush"-era Neil Young acoustic-electric folk with strong pop sensibilities to create the aural equivalent of the vast American landscape, particularly on the opener, "Things I Left Behind" and the title track. The influence of fellow Brits Teenage Fanclub also pops up occasionally, most notably in the one-two punch of "Wide Open" and "Can I Call You A Cab" midway through the CD.Since their 2001 debut, Road Movies, they have toughened up their sound and evolved into a muscular rock band, with bassist Sid Jordan and drummer Malcolm Cross forming a tight rhythm section. On lead guitar, Tim Walker provides a variety of tones and colors, while lead singer Simon Petty's limited but evocative voice brings weight to his introspective lyrics.
Minibar is currently on tour as both the opening act and back-up band for Pete Yorn, with whom they share an affection for dusky Americana and strong, catchy songwriting.
Released independently, Desert After Rain is available at CD Baby.
Published February 16, 2007