June 05, 2006
The Keene Brothers "Blues and Boogie Shoes"
Keene Brothers' debut, Blues and Boogie Shoes, is his collaboration with his band mate (and power-pop genius in his own right) Tommy Keene. On paper, this collaboration seems promising, but in execution, it's more than promising, it's downright brilliant. (After all, it's really not an impossible assumption to make that Pollard and his drinking buddies might have jammed to Keene's Places That Are Gone.) Keene, who supplied the music, has a well-established history as a quality songwriter, and as such, his sonic soundscapes are much bigger and bolder than any of Pollard's previous records. These songs are also a lot more polished and radio-friendly than most every record in Pollard's oeuvre; there's also a softer, mellower side to be found in songs like "Death of the Party," "Island of Lost Lucys" and "You Must Engage."
It's hard not to be impressed by the confident swagger of "Where Others Fail" and "This Time Do You Feel It?", and dig that hard-rocking "Heaven's Gate"--it's the closest Bob's ever come to sounding like Van Halen! Pollard's never been in finer voice, and Keene's music has never sounded this tough. Blues and Boogie Shoes has a great rock and roll vibe to it, reminiscent of Cheap Trick and The Who, though it's not a Cheap Trick or Who record. The record sounds less like a hot collaboration between two excellent songwriters and more like an unexpected comeback from a long-thought-lost 70s stadium rock band. It's that good. Let's hope that this collaboration lasts, because it's Pollard's best collaboration to date; each song is a jewel, Pollard's songwriting is topped only by his surprisingly powerful singing, and the only criticism to be had with Blues and Boogie Shoes is that it ends! (PS. This isn't Adult Contemporary, pitchdorks!)