If irony is dead, then the only way to describe Holiday is to say this band simply doesn't care what anyone thinks. At a show last month at the Blue Ox in Brainerd, the Fargo-Moorhead four-piece cranked out undisciplined renditions of Britney Spears and NSync songs for a sparse Thursday night crowd.
The bulky men demanding Iron Maiden covers may not have appreciated the set list, but the band was clearly having a blast. The fun of Holiday's live shows, but none of the sloppiness, carries over to its debut album, "Living with the Fallout." Actually, before you stop reading, let me point out that Holiday actually sounds nothing like Britney or NSync. They have more in common with Semisonic and Epic Hero, bands they hope to join in the Twin Cities music scene as their career progresses.
Holiday has a natural knack for hooks, so while the disc is a bit thin at nine tracks and a coda, you'll have no problem restarting the journey through energetic instruments and great rhymes like "She rides shotgun in a Ferrari/And listens to Paul McCartney."
If you spin
Album: "Living with the Fallout"
Web site: www.holidayrocks.com
The best track, "Something Unusual," mixes a steady guitar lick from Steve Osvold with Nick Emmel happily singing "You've got some attitude/Get over it now/Because I'm way beyond it" after reeling off a list of complaints about his girlfriend. The fast and wordy "Party Love" could've been a punk song by some awful band like blink-182, but somehow it's not annoying in Holiday's hands.
Holiday reminds me of Semisonic, masters at using studio technology without sacrificing the emotion of a song. As such, I'm tempted to call for more processing on "Living with the Fallout," which was recorded at Get Bent Recording in Fargo, N.D., and mixed at Two Fish Studios in Mankato. "Cab Rides and Careless Conversations," aside from a programmed cymbal, is pretty much an acoustic song.
Then again, this band has enough talent that it doesn't have to change a thing. Even their questionable taste in covers.
"Living with the Fallout" is available at www.holidayrocks.com, where you can also find the band's tour dates.
Although Brennen Leigh's first album was recorded in Fargo and her new one was recorded in San Antonio, there's surprisingly little change in the bluegrass sounds produced by the Texas-by-way-of-Moorhead crooner and her guitarist brother Seth Hulbert.
This is probably because the duo has always had a pretty good grasp of what makes a good bluegrass tune: pained lyrics and a relaxing beat. This mix of eight covers and four originals isn't for everyone, but I challenge non-bluegrass buffs (a group to which I belong) not to enjoy a live show by these siblings on a summer night by the lake. (They played last summer at Zorbaz in Lake Shore and will hopefully return to our bluegrass-friendly neck of the woods before too long.)
Brennen, who made the round of 20 on USA's "Nashville Star" earlier this year, has reigned in her voice a bit, allowing Seth and the studio pros a bit of the spotlight. Still, she lets loose on the standout track, the atmospheric "North to Alaska," and even gets in a short yodel on "Single Girl."
"Too Thin to Plow" is available at www.brennenleigh.com, where you can also find the duo's tour dates.
Five of the seven members of Little Feat have been playing together since at least 1972 (the other two joined in 1988 and 1992), and it shows on their latest album, "Kickin' It at the Barn." The band mixes so many genres with such expert musicianship on these 11 tracks that even the most jaded listener will find something to appreciate.
The vocals (duties are split between the whole band) are adequate, but they are easy to overlook in the face of the pleasant, foot-tapping instrumentation. "Corazones Y Sombras" is a zesty fiesta tune, "Walking as Two" serves up a nice bit of atmospheric blues, "Fighting the Mosquito Wars" is a gorgeous ballad and "Stomp" is an irresistible showoff piece.
If they are as good live as they are in the studio, then their show at 7 p.m. Thursday at Moondance Jam in Walker will be worth checking out. Little Feat also will perform a free show at the Minnesota State Fair at 8 p.m. Aug. 28-29. The band is on the Web at www.LittleFeat.com.
JOHN HANSEN can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5863.
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