Vintage Hi-fi

Blue Millennium

Independent release, 1999

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


You've got to hand it to a band like Blue Millenium: not many bands would create music that can't be easily pigeonholed and make it so entertaining.

Their disc Vintage Hi-Fi is an interesting collection of what I could only term "pop" music that is certain to entertain the listener - though I would question just how radio would choose to program this disc. I mean, it's not rock, it's not jazz - it's just light pop with a beat that you can get into and lyrics that occasionally make you think.

This nine-piece band out of Austin, Texas mixes all the Memphis soul of a solid horn section with beats that have a bit of jazz hidden in them, all laid on a lyrical bed that mixes as much traditional pop fare with The World Almanac - with even an occasional pinch of reggae thrown in for good measure. Sound scary? Don't let it intimidate you; it's actually quite pleasing to the ears.

The leadoff track, "Ready For Radio," isn't the strongest way for the album to kick off, namely because Blue Millenium is exactly the kind of band who don't neatly fit into any radio classification. (I guess that doesn't mean the band couldn't be ready for airplay; after all, their chops are flawless.) If this track does anything, it helps to prepare the listener for a journey unlike any they've ever taken musically.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Blue Millenium shows often that they have brains behind the beat. "Cool Papa Bell" is probably the only song I've ever heard dedicated to a star of Negro League baseball, tying his career into the image of modern-day kids playing stickball in the streets of New York. This track has a groove that will get you locked in from the beginning, and has proven to be a track I went back to often on this album just to enjoy listening to it.

And let's be honest, when was the last time you heard Death Of A Salesman mentioned in a song lyric? Sure, the track of the same name really doesn't talk about the book past mentioning it - though the melancholic existence of the song's subject seems to have the same delusions of grandeur that Willy Loman had in the play. Of course, I could be reading way too much into this, but unless someone from the band wishes to correct me, I'll stick to my interpretation.

Vintage Hi-Fi's greatest success lies in the solid grooves that are anchored in very good songwriting. Tracks like "Little Sister," "Jamaican Moon" and "Notch In Your Bed" all hook the listener from the start, and you almost feel sorry when the tracks do finally end. Without a doubt, Blue Millenium have mastered the skill of writing pop-oriented songs; now all they have to do is find the right outlet.

Closing the album is an 8-minute groove-based jam session, "Compared To What", which seems to fly by despite the length of the track. The only thing I would have changed about this one was the brief reference to the song "Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In" near the start; some of us have spent most of our lives trying to forget songs like that. Other than that, free up the funk, and let it flow!

Vintage Hi-Fi is the type of album that you might not give consideration to on first glance, but once you've listened to it, you'll wonder how you went for so long without giving it a shot. This disc is hopefully just the first step towards serious success for the band; Lord knows they have the talent, both in songwriting and execution, to make a name for themselves.

Rating: A-

User Rating: F



© 1999 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Independent release, and is used for informational purposes only.