Slash Records, 1996

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg


[Adapted from a review originally appearing in On The Town magazine on December 10, 1996]

It makes no sense at all, but I just can't help it. "The BoDeans" just sounds to me like a gang of hippie-dippie flanneled types with scraggly sideburns piling out of a wood-paneled station wagon down by the Louisiana bayou and cranking up some old Creedence Clearwater tunes. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Don't ask me why. Logic clearly isn't involved, since the BoDeans are in fact a pair of pretty normal-looking Wisconsinites with a flair for smart, rootsy-sounding pop songs of sufficient energy and artistry to earn them "critics' darling" status. And maybe this time the critics have got it right, because these guys are appealing in so many ways they sometimes seem practically angelic.

The BoDeans are, essentially, Sammy Llanas and Kurt Neumann, a singing/songwriting/playing duo sufficiently talented and complementary enough of one another's skills to make the inevitable comparisons to Lennon and McCartney not quite as laughable as they normally are. The analogy improves further when you consider the alternating lead vocals and the varied focus between challengingly thoughtful relationship songs like "The Understanding," cinematic story-songs like the terrific "Heart Of A Miracle," and bouncy bits of rock and roll fun like "Hey Pretty Girl."

The BoDeans got their big breakin 1995 in the oddest of ways, when the cult-hit TV show Party of Five picked up the ringing "Closer to Free" off their 1993 album Go Slow Down for its theme song. Blend for the most part takes a more low-key approach than that anthemic tune, yet the album consistently packs a punch, thanks to the sincerity and emotional depth of Llanas and Neumann's lyrics and the appealing simplicity of their guitar-bass-drums arrangements (supplemented by the occasional Hammond organ and, on this album, some nice accordion playing from E Street Band keyboardist Danny Federici).

Whatever image the BoDeans' name conjures up in your mind, Blend offers pleasures aplenty for any aficionado of intelligent music that rocks.

Rating: B+

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