Craig Brown Band: The Lucky Ones Forget
Perhaps it’s my Midwestern roots, but despite not being born until ’87, I listened to a whole heck of a lot of early-70s country-rock music growing up. The likes of Tom Petty, the Eagles, CCR, and Jackson Browne were always on the radio and my CD players in both my bedroom and car. I listened to some Top 40 and new indie music too, but my comfort music has been and will probably always be from that earlier era. (I’m basically Bob Seger: “Just take those old records off the shelf/I’ll sit and listen to ’em by myself./Today’s music ain’t got the same soul/I like that old time rock ‘n’ roll.”)
It’s rare that any new music has this particular kind of throwback vibe, but Jack White’s Third Man Records label recently released Craig Brown Band’s debut, The Lucky Ones Forget, which has just that kind of sound. With the lazy-sounding drawl of Petty, the perfect simplicity and jangle of the Eagles’ “Take It Easy,” and even a dash of Exile on Main St., Detroit-based Craig Brown and his band of talented friends (Eric Allen on guitar; Andrew Hecker on bass; Jeff Perry on drums; and Caitlin and Bonnie Drinkard on backing vocals) put forth a collection of 11 tunes that are very satisfying and comforting to listen to.
The first three tracks give listeners a solid introduction to what the band is about. “I Wondered What” is jaunty and cheerful, “Planet Song” is more of a cool cowboy tune with harmonica, and “Overthinking” is a true toe tapper. To promote the album’s first single, the band has created a fun, low-budget music video for “Overthinking.” The video alternates shots of the band members bowling, then dressed as mechanics “fixing” their tour van by popping the hood and pouring in white sugar and removing all kinds of random items including a mouse trap and a live cat, and then finally pretending to play the song using shovels for guitars, old tires for drums, and wrenches for microphones. These guys and gals don’t seem too interested in crafting any sort of overly serious image, which absolutely works in their favor.
I honestly had to laugh out loud at a few of the darkly funny lines on two of the album’s most countrified songs, “Lie Lust Lose Die” (“One of these days, you are gonna to kill me/ Good or bad, I’m going to die/ I’m drinkin’ every night and wakin’ up sober/ Better start drinkin’ throughout the day”) and “Glad You Came (Happy You Left)” (“If you would’ve stayed just one more day/ The stress would have gotten my best.”) In a recent interview with the Detroit Metro Times, when asked “What does inspire your lyrics?” Brown responded “Mostly girls; I’d say 80 percent.” Makes sense.
Though a few of the tracks mid-album seem to blend into one another a bit, slow-burner ballad “Anyhow” really grabbed my attention. The Drinkard sister’s exquisite harmonizing vocals are used perfectly on this song and the instrumental portion showcases some quality guitar and harmonica playing. This track is a true standout on the record and even brings to mind a little Neil Young circa Harvest Moon.
When pressed further by the Detroit Metro Times on what inspires his lyrics, Brown also answered: “Driving a lot, thinking about what would be good to listen to in a car.” Though I am currently a non-car-owning New Yorker, I can remember my teenage years, driving around Northern Indiana and Southwest Michigan. Somewhere between Hotel California and Damn the Torpedoes, The Lucky Ones Forget would certainly have gotten some solid airtime in my silvery-blue ’02 Saturn.