Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Josh Berwanger Strange Stains Good Land Records 2013
Quick introduction to the album, Josh Berwanger, was one of the main songwriters for the now defunct Anniversary. He plays around town and elsewhere as the Josh Berwanger Band, but the LP is credited to him as a solo artist. For the most part, Berwanger is the only consistent player on tracks and the group is pieced together. One stand out, the first track, "Bullets of Change," features Kansas City native T.K. Webb on guitar.
After the split of the Anniversary in 2004, Berwanger and members of Anniversary formed the Only Children which took the stoner-rock vibe of the Your Majesty to the country-rock side of the fence. So instead of big groove retro-rock, they went rural, Southern boogie. That all ended in 2007. Since then, hadn't heard much from any Anniversary alums other than Justin Roelfs' White Flight recordings and videos.
Apparently, Berwanger was busy penning power-pop gems. Granted, still retro-rock, but there are some legitimate hits on this LP. Kansas City recently got a new adult alternative station, it's a former NPR station out of Central Missouri State (maybe?) going by the Bridge FM. They're trying incredibly hard to align themselves with the local scene and are spinning the crap out of Berwanger's tunes. And for good reason, there are some great songs. The station currently seems to favor, "Time Traveler", which is kind of funny because the word "shit" is stated clearly and I don't think they've caught on.
While the album has some lulls, which isn't any different than any of the Anniversary albums, the first side and moments on the flip side are incredible. My main problem with Berwanger has always been this forced persona. Like he's always trying hard (like his former band mate, Justin Roelfs) to be this strangely, engaging, oddball. What's wrong with being a normal dude who plays guitar, you know? You're from the burbs, embrace it. Despite all that, he's never sounded more genuine than he does here. Power pop suits this dude, his backwards hats and vintage attire are well placed. His breathy vocals and T-Rex-ish cosmic lyrics make sense. Unfortunately, he's hitting on some pretty well worn territory. I mean, even when chiming guitars and big Beatles chorus' were a thing in the late-70s, people quickly looked elsewhere (how many hits did the Knack have, again?). Regardless, I'm hoping this album finds a devoted following. The songs deserve it.
Baby Loses Her Mind