This quintet is Finnish, but you'd never know it just from the listening. Last of the Good Ol' Days is the American debut of a band that's already quite popular across the seas and has toured with The Pretenders, Wilco, Patti Smith, and others. Good Ol' Days attracted the talents of Wilco's guitarist, Nels Cline, as well as Benmont Tench and Minne Driver, while the bonus CD features Levon Helm of The Band, one of the Latebirds' heroes. Ah, but there's more: Kris Kristofferson sang on a cut, and David Rawlings (Gillian Welch band) contributed to two of the five tracks, three of which are roots classics, including Steve Goodman's The City of New Orleans.
Thus, it comes as a surprise when the boys get to heavysiding two-thirds of the way through the opening title cut, and I mean cuh-run-chy! The reason for that and other unusual appurtenances, however, lies in the fact that they draw their influences from a broad range: The Band, Capt. Beefheart, Neil Young, Sonic Youth, Brian Eno, etc. On the other hand, Time Revisited is a perkily mellifluous track, something The Lefte Bank or Beau Brummels might even have done way back when. Fearless, my favorite cut, then jumps straight into Crazy Horse territory, accent on the better part of Nils Lofgren's presence in and out of that group, especially his later solo work.
The Latebirds have figured out the American sound, though once or twice they hit territory the Brits did so well in, No1 sounding like Pilot sifted through New York mello-pop—and, man o man, their laid back stuff is awfully damned good. Still, past CDs featured cats like Wayne Kramer (MC5) and Marc Ribot (high class skronk), so, all things taken together, it would be a mistake to relegate the band and its stylistic direction to any allegiance one way or the other. Nonetheless, whatever genre you'd care to saddle them with, don't leave out that overriding essence of mid-West gutfelt emotions and sonorities (though, contrastily enough, the cool snaps in the liner are from L.A. and the SoCal high desert, from locales I cherish, especially Joshua Tree Park, the subject of U2's past attentions).
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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