Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Legal Matters: “Conrad” (2016) CD Review

The Legal Matters are the trio of Andy Reed, Chris Richards and Keith Klingensmith, folks familiar to the Michigan music scene because of bands like Hippodrome, The Phenomenal Cats, An American Underdog and Chris Richards And The Subtractions. Their new album, Conrad, the band’s second full-length release, features all original material, with each of the three guys contributing songs. They are joined by Donny Brown and Andy Dalton, both on drums. The band’s name, by the way, comes from The Who’s “A Legal Matter,” but don’t expect these guys to sound at all like The Who. They are more pop than rock, and with a focus on the vocals, though there are definitely some 1960s influences on their sound.

The CD opens with “Anything,” written by Chris Richards. This is a sweet-sounding pop tune. Here is a taste of the lyrics: “I want you to know everything/And I’ll be anything you want/Anything you need/I just need you to laugh/This paradox could be/So good for you and me/If you believe all you read.” It’s followed by “I’m Sorry Love,” written by Andy Reed. This is one that has clear 1960s influences in the approach and sound, plus some wonderful blending of voices. But that playful instrumental section is what really gets me interested, and makes me fall in love with this song. Then the other instruments drop out briefly for a section that is just vocals and keys. “I’m sorry love, could you just hang on/And give me one more minute of your time/I’ll trade in my desire to comply/If you give me a reason for the line.”  That playful section is repeated at the very end, leaving me smiling. Absolutely delightful.

There are more 1960s influences on “Minor Key,” which refers directly to The Beatles in the line “We share a love for ‘Let It Be.’” And its first line is a nod to The Beach Boys: “I’m feeling the warmth of the sun.” The band ventures more toward rock with “Short Term Memory,” a song I like more each time I listen to it. “It makes me wonder who’s pulling all the strings/If we all jump off the merry-go-round we can bring back everything.”

The chorus of “More Birds, Less Bees” has a cute, light, happy sound. The title aggravates the grammar hound in me, as it seems like it should be “More Birds, Fewer Bees,” but the line in the song is “she’s talking more birds and less bees.” This song uses the old “self”/“shelf” rhyme, which always bothers me. Something about that rhyme always seems forced. “More Birds, Less Bees” is followed by one of my favorites, “Pull My String,” written by Keith Klingensmith. I particularly love the chorus, the delicious, positive sound of it, though the song is about a man who is lonely after a breakup, dealing with the platitudes people offer as help, like “these things serve to make you stronger.” And he’s not ready to move on. “Pull my string: I still love you/Pull my string: I am right here/Pull my string to hear the same things every day.”

She called me to say you’re wasting my time,” the main line of “She Called Me To Say,” makes me smile every time I listen to this disc. “Lull And Bye” is a short, sweet, pretty song that is all about the vocals, and might remind you of The Beach Boys. The disc then concludes with “Better Days,” written by Andy Reed. “A memory we’re making could be gone before too long/Well, I never know what to expect/Should I lay down my hand, let’s forgive and forget?” There is a false ending. The song comes back in unnecessarily, which actually works to detract from the its power.

CD Track List
  1. Anything
  2. I’m Sorry Love
  3. Minor Key
  4. Short Term Memory
  5. More Birds Less Bees
  6. Pull My String
  7. She Called Me To Say
  8. The Cool Kid
  9. Hip Hooray
  10. Lull And Bye
  11. Better Days 
Conrad was released on October 28, 2016 through Omnivore Recordings.

No comments:

Post a Comment