DESERT AFTER RAIN

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I JUST NEED SOMEONE TO TELL ME HOW TALL I AM

Review: Louisville Scene

By Jeffrey Lee Puckett

Lured by an Americana music scene that barely exists in its native England, Minibar moved to California and made Road Movies, a record that marries wispy English romanticism with alternative country while bringing out the best of both worlds.

Leader Simon Petty's writing is similar to that of alt-country poster boy Ryan Adams, while fans of the Scud Mountain Boys will recognize the fragile vocal stylings of Joe Pernice in Petty's soft, bruised delivery. But even as Minibar wears its influences on its collective sleeve, the band conjures a distinctive sound thanks to its trans-Atlantic breeding and Petty's strong writing.

Petty is another of the sad boys. He looks at the world through tear-rimmed eyes and hears it played out in gorgeous minor-key melodies and whispered harmonies. What saves him from sliding into self-pity is a sly sense of humor and a real grace with words. On the title track, Petty sings "Will you be my short-wave station? / Will you be my Dairy Queen? / Will you be my destination when I burn out of gasoline?," finding new and honey-sweet ways of telling someone that he needs them.

Need is a recurring theme on Road Movies, just as it is in country music (though this is country in the way Lucinda Williams is country -- informed by the genre but not defined by it). "Sheer Volume of Traffic," "I Know Without Asking," "Lost in the Details" and "Six Foot" are all beautiful and all deal with need in some way. " 'Cause I'm six foot tall on a good day / I'm eight miles high when I try / I can hold my own with the next man / I just need someone to tell me how tall I am." You gotta love a guy who cries on his own shoulder.

By adding its English sensibilities to the y'alternative mix, Minibar actually trumps a few bands it obviously admires. It has a ways to go before catching up with the pack leaders -- Wilco, Whiskeytown, Williams and Alejandro Escovedo -- but it is more than halfway there.

From The Louisville Scene
© 2001, The Courier-Journal


Last updated: Oct 01, 2006 - 04:02 PM PDT

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