Monday, March 12, 2012

music that is so blessedly off-trend - AGE SEX OCCUPATION

This Side of the Fence
Self-Released; 2012 
It does my heart glad to come upon a bit of music that is so blessedly off-trend that it’s rather difficult to dredge up anything approximating a “Recommended If You Like” analogy. And with Age/Sex/Occupation, we’re graced with a ten-song record in This Side of the Fence that combines blue-eyed soul, Muscle Shoals boogie, white-boy funk, and vintage power-pop with deft aplomb and nary a wink or nod towards the sounds you hear on the radio or download from an A-list blog. This isn’t to say that the record is without fault, but I’m happy to give the band a bit of a pass, since it seems they haven’t listed to anything approaching “hip” music in at least 10 years.
All the elements of a classy ‘60s-‘70s guitar-pop album are present: horns, a strong tenor lead vocal, strong rhythm section, and guitar licks that combine blues, jazz, and pop with verve. Moreover, I’m enamored with the female back-up singers and organ fills that regularly dot the sonic landscape, thus providing the best texture and variety to the overall mix. In one sense, the band fails to keep my attention as it hops around neglected sub-sections of pop and rock music (“Another World,” “Hide And Seek,” and the title track are best evidence of this), but then again, it’s this desire to visit those forgotten outposts of sound that consistently pique my interest.
Ultimately, when the tunes stay inside the greater pop fold in order to dance with soul and psych, This Side of the Fence is a sharp, crisp record. Standout cuts like “Dirt Isn’t Dirty,” “Volcano,” “Glass Slippers,” and “Lullaby” call to mind this curious combination of Elvis Costello, Big Star, Tom Petty, John Mellencamp, and Bruce Springsteen. Thus, while the album comes across like a weird mish-mash of vintage American pop-rock tropes, while never actually entering the 21st century), that’s exactly why I like the music that Age/Sex/Occupation has created.

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