Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Horizon: The Loose Salute

August 9, 2011

The Loose Salute‘s Getting Over Being Under mashes She and Him-esque vintage pop and modern alt-country sounds together. The resulting 11 tunes are incredibly pleasant, as you may expect a combination of those earnest genres would create. (Ian McCutcheon, drummer for alt-country greats Mojave 3, is the songwriter here.) The album is only problematic if you ask it to be more than nice.

“Vintage” is a peculiar fad in and of itself; a thing’s age is not an intrinsic marker of quality or necessity. Decades-old furniture that lasts is valuable; the trend of leg warmers (now almost 30 years old!) is not valuable. When bands appropriate a vintage sound, is it worth it? Does a band gain something by appealing to a person’s nostalgia?

I’m not sure they do. By drawing a direct line between “the good old days” and their current work, bands are attempting to recreate a thoroughly-tapped well. This almost precludes them from being able to do anything new and creative: If a band’s goal is to sound like someone else – even a nebulous other that is “vintage” – the achievement of that goal is a total absolution of whatever element would cause a band to stand out.

That’s where the problem lies in Getting Over Being Under. Each of the tunes are competent, pretty, even enjoyable. But I can’t pick out a single thing that I remember after the album is over. It’s akin to the music that movie characters hear on the radio when they wake up: pleasant, but not really the point of what’s happening.

“It’s a Beautiful Thing” is a pleasant, charming tune with some nice strings and a plodding country bass line. There’s nothing bad about the song at all. But by the time it folds into the perky “Run Out of Morning,” I totally forget it. No matter how many times I listen to the album, I find myself searching for the one track with really great horns (“So Out of Time”). There’s plenty of organ throughout. The mellow tracks are kind and calm: “This Is Love” is especially pleasing.

The really baffling thing about this album is that because it appeals to my nostalgia, I like it a ton. When I’m listening to it, I truly enjoy it. But afterwards, I can’t remember it. The band has effectively insulated itself against being disliked by me, but I’m not sure that’s the goal of being a band. I wouldn’t have written about it if I could find something to dislike about it. But this is a solid, enjoyable album – sort of. The Loose Salute is quite talented, and I would love to see the members branch out and take some sort of step to distinguish themselves from the pack. If not? Well, they’ll always be pleasant.

Stephen Carradini and Lisa Whealy write reviews of instrumental, folk, and singer/songwriter music. We write about those trying to make the next step in their careers and established artists.

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