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.

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Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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