THIS WEEK
Cover News
Opinion A & E
Sports Intramurals
Calendar Comics
 
YH FEATURES
Exclusive
Archives/Search
Planet of Sound
Speak Your Mind
Pick the Pros
Crossword
 
ONLINE TOOLS
Ground Zero
Sublet Search
Rideboard
Book Shopper
Blue Book Search
 
ABOUT US
the Yale Herald
YH Online
 

Halfway Houseband: Halfway Houseband

BY NICHOLAS WEBB

"Stuck In Range," which leads off the self-titled debut of the Yale-based folk-rock group the Halfway Houseband, is as perfect a genre example as you're likely to find. Over a supple, quiet rhythm section and a rootsy acoustic guitar, we get laid-back lyrics: "My eyes still see the sun when I'm high/It seems all right, nothing's changed." Yep, we're deep in Deadhead territory here; the Halfway Houseband's acoustic instrumentation and wistful-but-upbeat lyrics give off front-porch good vibes that could have come straight from American Beauty or Workingman's Dead.

I'll be up \front with the fact that this isn't my scene, but I have to be impressed by the band's skills. For a self-released CD-R, Halfway Houseband is a surprisingly tight and polished album. Excellent production gets the band's rustic sound out with minimum fuss, and there's some deft arranging going on here: wonderfully smooth basslines tastefully

compliment the acoustic rhythm guitar, while the occasional gentle electric leads flow gracefully in. I don't know if they've served as an actual house band, but they've definitely got their chops down—other than a few rhythmic slips, the group's sound is organically tight.

But what about the songs? Unfortunately, for much of the album, they're pretty similar; of the first six songs, only the flamenco-tinged "The Goose" grabs me with any urgency. As the album progresses, however, the band takes a turn away from folk-rock and towards a more traditional style, and the emotional heft of the songs gets a major boost. "Dealing to Davey Jones" makes elegant use of violin accompaniment, while "When the Fence Falls Down" brings in a harmonica; "You're Like an Angel," a heartbreaking minor-key ballad, avoids the clichés that mar Halfway Houseband's more upbeat tracks, making it the album's songwriting high point.

As its technique makes clear, Halfway Houseband is a talented group of musicians, and if the last few songs on the album are any indication, they're capable of transcending the good-times clichés of their genre and writing songs that connect on a deeper level. If they can do so consistently, they might yet make an album that's worth a listen even if you're not still grieving for Jerry. (Self-released)

Back to A&E...

 

 



All materials © 2001 The Yale Herald, Inc., and its staff.
Got any questions, comments, or advice? Email the online editors at
online@yaleherald.com.
Like to join us?