November 17, 2002

Capital City "Am I Invisible?"

Capital City fill a void--a nice void--in my musical life. See, I've been terribly disappointed by the diminishing returns of the once-promising talent of one Mr. Rhett Miller, leader of the late, great Old 97s. From witty, literate country-rock nerd-boy, he's traded it in for something which I'm sure someone convinced him was a good idea: the last Alternative Rock Star. Of course, nobody cares, and it's now quite apparent to the rest of the world that the Old 97's were never lesser than the sum of Rhett's parts. When I first heard Am I Invisible, I felt a little glimmer of hope that the 97's sound had finally been rescued from the annals of mediocrity.

Let's not think, though, that I'm being too generous in my praise for Capital City. Am I Invisible, as good as it is, is no Too Far to Care. There's something about this music that makes me feel that, given enough time on the road, they could make red-hot country rock that surpasses the Old 97's highest peak--which, my friends, is no mean feat. At times, lead singer Geech Sorensen even sounds like a less ego-filled Rhett Miller, which is also not a bad thing, lest he decides to go all Maxim on us, which would be a betrayal punishable by death.

But--and this is a big but--Capital City aren't country, country-rock, alt-country (whatever that is), or indie-rockers who are making ironic country sounds. They're JUST A BAND, which is commendable in and of itself. Am I Invisible is a great debut album full of rock songs, and in my mind it has only one weak spot--"Receiving/Daydreaming." This song falters because it has a shocking and seemingly out-of-place female vocalist. Even then, the song's not bad because it's not good, it's just a sudden change that doesn't seem to flow with the rest of the album.

I have this itching suspicion that such songs as "Council Emissary" and "Growing Up Too Fast," which sound great on record, simply EXPLODE in a live setting. I hope that somebody soon lights a fire underneath Capital City's ass, because in so doing, they could easily become a shit-hot live band that the world so desperately needs. If they did, they could really have something good. I mean, in a better world, "This Town Won't Be the Same" would be the greatest hit since "Big Brown Eyes" and "Doreen." But we don't live in a music-loving world, so Capital City will simply have to offer up their own dish of greatness one fan at a time. Luckily, though, I really think that they can pull it off.

--Joseph Kyle

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