Brent Amaker and the Rodeo "Please Stand By" (Spark & Shine, 2010)
Noir by numbers
Seattle cowboys Brent Amaker and the Rodeo are a none-more-black-attired self-mythologizing country bar band who have been gathering growing support via their apparently riotous live shows, and have already starred in their own graphic novel.
It’s difficult to know how serious to take Brent and his comrades, so its best not to as the humour that’s seemingly hinted at doesn’t tend to translate as well as they think. Amaker has a somewhat affected comic book sub-Johnny Cash drawl, which is then set against the archetypal toe-tapping Cash-style country rhythms on every song. Steve ‘Tiny Dancer’ Daniels provide the searing twanging lead guitar lines, which help make these songs sound initially attractive and familiar, despite being a little bereft of any pioneering ideas.
Throughout, Amaker hams it up as the Hammer-horror country badman, best displayed on ‘Hammer Hits the Nail’, and also to fair effect on the darkly humorous ‘Doomed’. Elsewhere, The delightfully moody ‘Garden of Love’ has the makings of a fine song, though like several other key moments here, suffers terribly from being somewhat under written and developed in terms of lyrical ideas. Despite its wonderful sonic backing, it ponders the tired idea that “Love is like a flower...”, but settling on “you’re a fine looking woman and I’m a desperate man!”. Though it has to be said that on previous form, the band have not been known for their sensitivity to sexual politics, or their chivalrousness.
Amaker and his band claim, oddly, to draw inspiration from as far and wide as Bowie and the artier end of Post-Punk, but there’s no evidence of those here at all. It is the mono-faceted and ubiquitous Cash-aping rhythms and sounds that run through every available second of the record which just grow tired, before considering the questionable lyrics. The approach renders all that’s on the album wilfully generic and predictable at best, and at worst, monotonous and bereft of ideas, even at a mere half hour in length.
Date review added: Sunday, September 26, 2010
Reviewer: Ian Fildes
Related web link: Men in Black