October 15, 2002

Hutch & Kathy "Hutch & Kathy"

Okay, I'm gonna get the main quibble out of the way first, because I don't want it to sound like I dislike this record. Hutch Harris sounds like Weird Al Yankovic. That his music's done in a lo-fi setting really doesn't help this out--in fact, it makes it worse, because the vocals are often mixed up front, you're gettin' more Hutch than should be allowed. I don't know why, but I'm just not grasping very well with his singing. When he would sing with his band, Urban Legends, I wouldn't really notice, but I guess the whole stripped-down thing really brings his voice to the front of the class.

That aside, you really cannot fault Harris and his partner Kathy Foster for making annoying music. Their music--a folky, 60s-tinge acoustic pop with occasional keyboard and harmonica and consistant boy-girl vocal exchanges--is certainly bright and bouncy. The music is very simple, very basic, and their lyrics are a little more complicated than their simple rhythmic patterns lead on, such as "A Rich Nation's" charmingly simple verse: "well there's still fuel in the tank/there's still money in the bank/i know that time is running out/if it's only ours to spend/lets grab that feeling again."

The fact that they're recording this music in such a lo-fi manner may be a hinderance in that it makes Harris' voice sound annoying, but it also brings out the lyrical content of his songs. There are times of more serious moments, such as on "Through the Day," but mainly, they don't break from a la-la sing-a-long style that's rather cute.
Sugar-coated, even. I'd almost be willing to say some of this borders on children's music, but I don't think that's intentional on their part. For the record, I like children's music. I'd rather listen to a record of off-the-cuff loose-sounding children's sing-a-long-music than to something that's complicatedly recorded yet lacks passion ANY day.

Sugar-coated is great for cereal, but it doesn't always work on record, unless you're going for an auidence that, oh, ten? Lo-fi pop like this seems like it's also perfect for college freshman boys who have waifish girlfriends who look like 11-year old boys and with whom they've just discovered indie-rock music and are just beginning the process of becoming indie-rock snotty-heads, precocious little shits who cling on every note as if it were handed to them directly from the mountains and delivered to them by a Moses that looks a helluva lot like Issac Brock, all the while never ever ever realizing that most of the music they're superior about is already three years out-of-date. At times, I feel like I'm listening to a boy version of a Rose Melburg band, and with Kathy Foster, who's also in All Girl Summer Fun Band, adding her sweet crooning, at times Hutch and Kathy comes off like a testosterone-fuelled Softies. Not that such a thing is bad, mind you; it's just, well, different. While Hutch and Kathy might best be recommended in small doses, it's nothing less than a fun and innocent ride.

---Joseph Kyle

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