Sunday, May 8, 2011

'Six String Love' by The Van Buren Boys

By Kevin Toomey
Rating: 4/5
Banana Peel Records CD

Borrowing its name from a fictional gang in Seinfeld, The Van Buren Boys' debut album is 12 tracks of sleazy, glammy, power pop rock 'n' roll delivered in less than 40 minutes. The disc starts off with “410 W. Springfield Ave,” an homage to the dilapidated punk house in Champaign, Ill., where the singer reminisces about good times over jangley guitar riffs and sing-along choruses. Most of the tracks on Six String Love stick to the tried and true formula of songs about girls, going out, shows, partying, etc. Songs like “Out Tonight” and “Dark Hair and Hazel Eyes” are great to put on at a party or on Friday night when you’re gearing up to go out. But, I think that the real stand out tracks have a hint of despair to them. Whether it’s “Anywhere But Here,” where the singer laments his current situation and wishes he could just pick up and go, or “Get Away,” where (again) the singer just wants to get away from the familiarity of his hometown towards something better, even if he doesn’t quite know where that better place is.
One of my favorite songs on the album, “Luck of the Draw,” tells about watching someone destroy themselves with an addiction. Lines like, “I know you’ve got it rough/And too much is never enough,” have a bit of sadness to them, but you really can’t get too down due to the rocking keyboard and guitar riffs behind the lyrics.
The next tracks more than make up for that though with an optimistic outlook hammered home through what are becoming the band’s trademark gang choruses and more excellent guitar playing. The Van Buren Boys’ two guitar players are really good at what they do. Six String Love is packed from beginning to end with guitar riffs that range from bluesy and having a sort of Keith Richards-vibe to them to more poppy hooks reminiscent of the Exploding Hearts or the Paul Collins Beat. I think that this aspect really shines through in the band's live show more than it does on the recording, where after several listens, the amount of fretwork can be a bit much. Overall though, I really do like Six String Love and would recommend it for any fans of rock 'n' roll, power-pop or punk music. I’m anxious to hear the band's follow up, which they just finished recording and should release sometime this year.

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