September 21, 2003

Daniel Johnston "Time And Pain"

Sometimes, we music reviewers get bored. We get tired of hearing bands that are trying way..too...hard... to be innovative, interesting and original. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with having a new sound or style--but when you're talking about a third-rate band imitating a fifth-rate band, well, my could you expect someone to not get cynical. I mean, guys, Pavement was great, but let's try something that's original now, please? Please?? I don't really want to hear a piss-poor imitation of a record that wasn't really all that great five years ago. Okay? Thanks.

I'll let you in on a little secret. It's easy to get disillusioned. It's easy to think, "well, great, music's not good anymore. Everyone just wants to sound like everyone else." So, you see, I get excited when I get a record like Time & Pain. Yeah, it's not 'indie' but so what? Daniel Johnston (not THE Daniel Johnston, mind you), is a guy who makes unassuming, pretentious-free rock music that cannot (and sadly would not) be embraced and classified as "indie-rock." He's not making anything but genre-free rock music, and I really do enjoy it. It's a bit refreshing to know that there are people out there who are making music just because they want to make a great sounding record.

And Time & Pain indeed sounds great. In fact, if I didn't know any better, I'd think that this was a 'lost' record from the late 80s or early 90s, of some guy who had a deal but the label dropped him and held onto his record, or perhaps the album was released, but it was such a minimal release in the eyes of the label that he just was allowed to drown in obscurity. It just seems a bit odd that a record that sounds this good could be produced by a guy on a shoestring budget. It doesn't hurt that he has a strong yet unassuming voice, either. In fact, Time And Pain reminds me why it was that I love Crowded House and Aztec Camera so much--guys who know how to write a great song, and they just want to write play their great songs, with no fancy gimmicks to distract you from the actuall songs.

Time and Pain is certainly an ear-perking listen. True, it's not going to win any awards for being the most innovative record of the year, but, you know what? That's perfectly fine with me. It's not as if it's the most derivitive record I've heard, either. Sometimes it's good to be unassuming and unpretentious, and Daniel Johnston is certainly that. It's good to have artists who still write and produce great, likeable songs such as "Wait and See," "The Great Confession" and "Captivated." Time & Pain is smart adult pop that would play quite well in your local coffehouse or bar, where good music is the soundtrack to good times, memories and friendships. Music for the moments when you don't need to be overwhelmed by music. Yeah, that's it. Bottom line? I like this record. Yup. It's a good one.

--Joseph Kyle

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