The Amazing Incredibles

It Could Happen
Edible [CD]

The Famous Unknowns

The Famous Unknowns
Out There Records [CD]

[Editor's note: Twangin'! occasional staff writer Paul Comeau gets fast & frisky with word-play in the following two reviews!]

Here we have a couple of acoustic bands with unusual word-play monikers. The first questions that come to mind with regards to the Amazing Incredibles is whether or not the group's songs are indeed as repeatingly redundant as their pleonastic name and whether the members are also clones in the "my other brother Darryl" tradition. Well, first things first! After listening to the album over and over I offer my subjective rating. This one and only group's rather direct approach works well in fits and starts and, although the sound is not quite the exact same as the Uncle Walt's Band or the Dan Hicks brand of country, blues, string band, and jazz, lo and behold, it's almost deja vu all over again. Nonetheless, never mind the whys and wherefores because what's done is done, what's fair is fair, and if it's right it's right. All kinds of positive praise could be heaped and sowed on the group but the sharp point I'm bound and determined to make is that after reflective thought, I've arrived at a fair and just final conclusion: It Could Happen... is not quite a major masterpiece, but the album reveals much more than a small speck of talent and in this day and age it's almost certainly much closer to being a genuine original than a sour lemon.

The Amazing Incredibles are aided and abetted by producer Neil Dorfsman, whose past history has included work with Sting and Dire Straits. It's very true that the songs, sometimes sung together in tandem, may not always have major significance but betwixt and between the lot of them, neither the ar- rangements nor the songs sound like one and the exact same either. I hemmed and hawed to pick and choose a few favorites, but, truth be told, the musicians are in tip-top shape and play with vim and vigor, the arrangements are spic-and-span and everything, in point of fact, is fine and dandy. I don't mean to overexaggerate, but at this point in time it seems to be the consensus of opinion that the group is also, for all intents and purposes, far and away one of the most amazing and incredible to currently reside in Hoboken, N.J. Well, enough's enough! Not to make a short story long but the sum total, for now, is that this album should be bought and paid for with cash money, unless you have to scrimp and save to find the ways and means to do it. Alas and alack, if this group's next album turns out be both new and improved, the end result is that fans will rant and rave about them until their popularity grows by leaps and bounds. Well and good. Everyone is entitled to my opinion. There, I've said it again.

The Famous Unknowns has what is undoubtedly the best oxymoronic name in the music biz since Big Tiny Little. The Virginia group is loosely organized around Lewis McGehee and Michael Lille, the latter an acclaimed solo artist and 1993 Kerrville winner, as well as a member of the highly regarded SGGL band. Another member is Robbin (two "b's" please) Thompson, who, as some partially awed rock trivia fans vaguely recollect, started out as one of Springsteen's colleagues and who, in the 70s, recorded a couple of well- known obscure albums. Before I had listened to part of the album all the way through, I was willing to wager even odds that the group's dry run of an album was only a partial success rather than an instant classic because some of the material is only fair to maudlin. Some selections are, to paraphrase Dickens, neither the best of songs nor the worst of songs. Same difference. It's not so much the bombastic understatement that the group brings to its mini-epic that makes it a near miss. I'm certainly unsure of what makes the material only a qualified success but I suspect that it's the controlled enthusiasm that the group brings to its semi-distinctive songs and/or the dull shine of the vocals which, perhaps predictably, seems to go with the dynamic monotone of the arrangements.

This debut, possibly the group's first annual album, features songs which, although arranged in random order and slightly pregnant with meaning, vary from wickedly nice to extremely average. The musicianship varies from aw- fully good to somewhat awesome. However, there is no real magic and my initial partial conclusion was, perhaps predictably, a sort of intense apathy. There is a casual formality to the sweet and sour sounds of the group's country-folk material. Nonetheless, since the group is pursuing music as a full-time hobby, I suspect that the negative momentum is temporary and that they will be met with more than a pronounced silence, especially with the second initiative. My objective feeling, thinly dis-guised as the straight poop, is that the group may almost suddenly take off in the near future but in the meantime the group's songs sometimes stick to you like teflon-coated velcro. Should you buy this album? As a convinced skeptic, I'd say a firm maybe on that. Then again... no comment! And you can quote me on that.

-- Paul E. Comeau

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