Suburban Home Records (www.suburbanhomerecords.com)
Snappy pop rock whose lyrics burn with life questions and are punctuated by memories.
On his Myspace page, Scott Reynolds takes almost four hundred words to explain just what Scott Reynolds and The Steaming Beast is. The closest approximation Reynolds arrives upon for labeling the talented, cross-genre conglomeration comes when he notes that, “there can be like a hundred incarnations of the Beast.” With help from Dave Fridmann, Steven Drozd of The Flaming Lips, members of The Pavers, Bonesaw Romance, Drag the River and Bleed for Me, Reynolds’s latest release—the 10-song rollick entitled Adventure Boy—is a punk-rock melting pot boiling with Reynolds’s insightful lyrics. Oddly enough, Adventure Boy came off sounding more pop than its roots would indicate, but I wasn’t turned off in the least. Afford this full-length release a couple of listens and you’ll see what I mean.
There isn’t a particularly weak song on Adventure Boy, and for such a Frankenstein-esque collective of musicians to accomplish this is testimony to Reynolds’s control of his lyrics. Take the song “The Boy Who Stole Your Heart,” pick it apart, and you have what amounts to poetry. The opening verse runs: “I search the crushed velvet sky tonight, for a sign tonight, / that you could be mine tonight. / There’s no one around but you. / Not a soul in this town but you. Every sight, smell and sound is you.” The repetition of words is simplistic in nature, but Reynolds’s image of a crushed velvet sky stuck with me, and his personification of his girl-on-a-pedestal worked as “every sight, smell and sound” was touching and realistic. We’ve all felt that, I think, and Reynolds said it plainly and poetically.
As I was pouring over the lyrics on Adventure Boy, I was captivated too by the mini-biographies Reynolds provided for each song. They’re the grounding that makes each song uniquely his, giving them life and meaning. It helped outline the revolving door cast of characters and give them lives. My favorite was Gene Beeman, the heady protagonist of the super-catchy “Jesus, Satan, Gene Beeman, His Car, and Pizza Hut.” Gene walks everywhere because his car’s broken-down and he refuses to fix it. The song chronicles the annihilation of his belief in anything, and the subsequent interactions Beeman has with The Devil and Jesus. Reynolds uses the song to humorously point out how horrible it is to believe in nothing; it’s social-commentary in song form with a solid story line. That’s tough to do, and I give Reynolds credit for pulling it off.
Adventure Boy is marked by its guitar-tones. For much of the album—even with its slew of collaborating artists—the guitar-tones sound, for the vast majority, like a Telecaster on the rhythm pickup, tone-knob turned down hard, and run through a crystal-clear, slightly reverberation-tinged tube-amp. Across the board, these are pop-songs. There are backing claps (“Jesus, Satan, Gene Beeman, His Car, and Pizza Hut”), slide guitar lines (“Angel”), ooh’s and aah’s (“None of This is Funny”), and multiple backing harmonies scattered throughout Adventure Boy, stamping it as pop.
There’s so much to say about Adventure Boy, it’s just best to take a listen, steep in Reynolds’s witty and insightful lyrics while tapping your feet to the various styles that permeate this album. Enjoy it.
Timothy C. Avery