There's a lot of twang in The Heygoods. More than the Brit/Athens GA pop-oriented opening track "Come Around" would lead one to believe. Then again, there is a lot more Brit power pop than '50s country knockoffs like Why Can't I Stay. And Jeckyll and Hyde as it is, the combination is intriguing. Very intriguing. The Heygoods walk that fence throughout the twelve songs presented on this disc (even though only ten are listed. It's a trick to see if critics actually listen, I think) and after a few songs, you find yourself unconsciously yearning for a beer because honky-tonks and bars live off of this kind of stuff.
Come Around, in fact, is the perfect opener for this because while it has that underlying '50s and '60s country twang, the vocals are very '80s Athens GA and the lead guitar is straight out of England. And it's just long enough to finish most of that first beer and order another, for the set heads right into bar heaven. A Good Nite's Sleep has a bit of punk/country/rock & roll feel while calling for sleeeeeep. Slow dancers would cry for Why Can't I Stay, with Katie and Dave's vocals tongue-in-cheek to the hilt. Humor and country. Is that legal? The Brit guitar returns in Desirable, a mixture of country vocals over British pop. Chauvinism lives in Doghouse, as Dave laments the politically correct world which denies him every thing the male ego desires. This is Foxworthy to music, to a small degree. Impressive electric slide sets Turn You On apart with some fine softer rock vocals and harmonies. Too Good, lone trumpet and solid acoustic rock, is a good upbeat tune, the chorus giving Dave a chance to squeeze out a few good vocal lines. Back to straight country with The Coming Attractions. Big Ass American Car rides country punk to its obvious conclusion (the title says it all). Banjo underwrites country rocking Homegrown, a look at home farming, I guess (Hey, fresh IS better). A touch of cajun fiddle prefaces a strange musical look at losing a dog (Lost Dog, I guess)— more than prefaces, I guess, because it's The Heygoods' version of cajun and it's pretty darn good. Choogling country rock finishes the CD, starting with the lines "Find 'em young/Treat 'em rough/Make 'em like it" and damned if it ain't kinder catchy.
I was not really sure what to think of this CD as it played through. The Heygoods walk a thin line between the serious and humorous and, in places, the bizarre. The thing is, they do it so well. Slowly, you begin to be sucked into their world of lost dogs and American cars and by the end, you wonder if maybe their world isn't a whole lot better than this one, absurd as it is. The one thing I thought a negative at the beginning became a total positive by the end: their minimalist vocals. Big production would have undercut the humor and message, so why not record the voice straight out of the box? The more you hear it, the more it fits.
A synopsis: If you like your alt.country overlayed with occasional Brit pop guitar and twang galore and some well-done lyrical humor, this is worth a listen. Actually, worth more than one listen. I'm on my fifth now and still haven't quite figured out some of the tracks, but I'm digging it anyway. Maybe I'll get lucky someday and catch these guys in a honky-tonk. I'll bet they put on one hell of a show.
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