Because Songs Matter

LUCERO – 1372 OVERTON PARK


Finally, after all the talk, all the speculation and all the handwringing over majors and horns, Lucero’s sixth studio album, 1372 Overton Park, is released! It almost seems impossible to write about this album without talking about the questions surrounding it from long-time friends. At the same time, it almost feels selfish to rehash them over and over again. Is Lucero required to stay within their fans’ safe zones? If that’s the case, is it fair to the band? Simple fact is, fair or not, the words “major label debut” and “horns” have made a lot of fans more than a little nervous about the future of this beloved rambling crew from Memphis. And when that was topped by Ben’s (and to a lesser sense, the band’s) appearance on the MTV faux-reality series $5 Dollar Cover, many of the original fans started to mumble the words “sell” and “out”, usually in that order. If any of these concerns even registered with the band itself they’ve handled in pretty typical Lucero fashion, by forging straight ahead making their music the way they want it made, and now that the official release date is upon us the only question that matters is whether you like it or not.

Having pre-ordered the album, I got the six song sampler many months ago, and having the internet I’ve had the full-length leak almost as long and I will admit, at first I didn’t like it. Not because of the horns or any of that crap, but for some reason I never seem to like a new album from an artist I enjoy the first couple of times I hear it. It’s a character flaw I’m sure, but after that initial period I was still on the fence about the sampler. Then came the full-length leak and access to “Mom”. “Mom” was the initial track to grab me and open my ears to the rest of the cd. “Mom” is one of those classic show-closing acoustic anthems that Ben’s so good at writing, and I can only imagine that it’s taken the place of “The War” as the last song of the night. As an avid fan of hearing “The War” live it’s a little sad for me, but I must admit that “Mom” is worthy of the slot. After “Mom” the songs just started falling in place, and after a week’s time I realized I loved the album, the production, and I’ll be god damned if I didn’t love the horns too. Another one of the standout tracks on the album for me is “Sixes and Sevens”. It might be one of my favorite tracks ever by the band and would easily fit into the Rebels, Rogues and Sworn Brothers tracklisting without any tweaking, while “Darken My Door” is as sad a song as the guys have ever written.

My natural reaction is to try and write a review defending the horns. Hell, if I’ve typed, “Really, once you stop listening to the horns and listen to the album you’ll find that it’s a Lucero album through and through” once, I’ve typed it fifty, and that’s the truth. 1372 Overton Park isn’t Lucero reinventing itself, and if you line the cd’s up and listen in chronological order I think it becomes pretty obvious that this is the next logical step in their evolution. Will they loseWeight Exercise some of their old fans? Probably, but I appreciate that the band is willing to take that risk to follow their musical path. Will this album propel them to super-stardom? Hard to say. It’s got the production and the hooks. If there was a track on the album that I thought could capture the interest of the public, I’d have to say it’s “What Are You Willing To Lose”, and if ever there was a band that’s earned a little star power it’s Lucero…even if it means I end up losing my cool little band that I get to see a couple of times a year with 200 of my closest friends through music.

Without hesitation, I put this album on the ninebullets.net essential listening list, and now that I’m intimately familiar with the cd I have to say it’s a strong contender for album of the year.

Lucero - The Devil and Maggie Chascarillo     

Lucero - Darken My Door     
(live)

Lucero - The War     
(live)

Lucero’s Official Site, Lucero on myspace, Buy 1372 Overton Park

REMINDER FOR THE TAMPA/ST. PETE FOLKS. THERE IS A LISTENING PARTY TONIGHT @ VINYL FEVER. COME OUT.

23 Comments

  1. October 6, 2009    

    I loved it after the first listen. I feel such pride in listening to “1372”. They earned the title ‘hometown heroes’ long ago, but this new one really confirms it.

    Oh, and for those who are saying the boys have ‘sold out’, forget about it. The minute this band becomes something other than what they want in their hearts, they’ll know it’s quitting time. They’re not the kind of band to bend to the will of some label and change who they are. If you’ve met them, you know this. Hell, you should know it without even having met them.

  2. Sara Lorusso Sara Lorusso
    October 6, 2009    

    Great article and I couldn’t agree more. Hell, I didn’t like “Rebels…” the first few times I listened to it and now it’s prob my second fav after “Tennessee”. The boys gotta follow what they feel is best for them…true fans hang in there with them.

  3. Sherry Estelle Sherry Estelle
    October 6, 2009    

    Hi Bryan! I’ll totally give it to you, I was one of those people you told to stop listening to the horns and now I can’t stop listening to the album – hope to see you soon!

  4. October 6, 2009    

    I completely agree with your thought that, if you lay the albums out in chronological order, this album just fits right in line.

    If “selling out” means making the album you have always wanted to make, playing some larger venues, and getting a tour bus instead of a white van, then I am all for it!!!

    $5 Cover?? Come on…did anyone outside the circle of fans of the bands on it even watch it? I doubt it. 😉

    Personally, I think “Smoke” is the song that grabbed me from the start, but there is not a song on this entire CD that I skip over. It’s a complete CD, from beggining to end!

  5. October 6, 2009    

    $5 Cover?? Come on…did anyone outside the circle of fans of the bands on it even watch it?

    The show was silly but the web episodes were terrific.

  6. willy willy
    October 6, 2009    

    fuck yeah, the album is definitely a step forward, i agree with the fact that if selling out is playing a little bigger venues, doing a shitty show on mtv that nobody watched, and making the album you want then more power to ya. lucero has been one of those bands that upon buying “nobody’s darlings” about 4 years ago took me about 1 year to get into, but now have all there albums memorized. anyway “1372 overton park” is a spectacular record.
    peace

  7. October 6, 2009    

    That’s a nice succinct summary of the fan experience, Bryan. I also have that defect where I tend to ruin new releases from bands I love. I don’t know if it’s just high expectations, or hearing most of the tracks live before the release, or what, but it seems like it happens to me every time. Luckily, I’m really enjoying this record. I think it’s a really strong batch of songs.

    A few quick comments:

    For all the talk about the horns, I think people are missing the biggest change on this record: bridges. After years of being a verse/chorus/solo strict constructionist, Ben went totally bridge happy on this record. Literally every song has a bridge. On RRSB, I think there might have been 3 or 4. Like the horns, this seems like artistic growth to me, but (also like the horns) there are times when it works for me and others when it doesn’t.

    The other thing that struck me about the anticipation and arrival of this record is that we really got to see it grow up from infancy. I mean, what did we have, maybe 9 of these 12 songs as live tracks? And, of those, maybe 7 underwent major changes in between their live debut and the record. That was really fun. Maybe the internet ruins a little of the old experience of buying a record having only heard the first single, but it offers some really cool stuff it exchange.

    Oh, and $5 Cover sucked donkey balls.

  8. October 6, 2009    

    I got the sampler as well and Sounds of the City is the one that grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. However I soon noticed I was playing Sixes and Sevens a lot more often and then when I got the leak I was taken in by Can’t Feel a Thing which is still probably my favorite off of this one followed by a tie between Mom and Sounds of the City. The horns weren’t an issue for me at all it just sounded like should have come after RR&SB so I have loved this one from the get go. I will admit RR&SB didn’t make me comfortable at first and took a few listens but after that this seems to be a logical maturation.

    The boys ain’t sellin’ out at all. I don’t even think they’ll lose any long time fans. Us old-timers have hung with the boys after shows, picked Ben up after too much whiskey, did three city fan boy mini-tours, and worse. Even if this isn’t an old-timers favorite album I doubt anyone who didn’t bail on the band with RR&SB will bail on this one. And if they do then fuck ’em. I remember hearing them on Cold Case (one of my wife’s shows) then recently on One Tree Hill (I have seen 3/4 of one episode just to see what context they used Mom in) and neither of those was a sellout moment for the boys. While this album is more polished their live shows are still what they have always been and Lucero records are for getting through the times between when they come to town and play live.

    I don’t if this will propel them in super-stardom but I do think they’ll gain more of a following and likely move up to playing slightly larger joints. I think we’ll see more crazy underage kids at the all ages shows but I don’t think we’ll be missing any of the old-timers who used to act just like those crazy kids.

    Enough out of me…

  9. Nick Nick
    October 6, 2009    

    I’ll second the maturation in song structure on this record. I wonder if the new producer had anything to do with that.

  10. Cowbelle Cowbelle
    October 6, 2009    

    I like it well enough and the horns are fine with me. There is no way this album will become a staple like Tennessee or That Much Further West for me, but there are a couple tracks on here – Darken My Door and especially Darlin’ Do You Gamble – that will rank on my all time Lucero faves. Maybe because these sound more like their old sound.

    I’m happy to hear them evolve in a way that I may not love as much as their earlier stuff but doesn’t alienate me like the most recent albums from My Morning Jacket and especially Drive-By-Truckers. Still looking forward to seeing them live in PDX at the end of the month.

  11. October 6, 2009    

    Count me in as loving it. I really enjoy the Memphis R&B soul sound that they’ve added. I was never a long-time fan, since I only came on board following That Much Further West. I’ve liked every subsequent release more and more, and I’m sure this’ll be top of my ’09 list as well.

  12. Brandon Brandon
    October 6, 2009    

    Just got it in today (with the tee and patch)..Have had the sampler for awhile now with mixed emotions on it. Im ripping to the ipod now to give it the full attention a Lucero album deserves. BTW the tee was actually fairly bad ass!

  13. October 6, 2009    

    It is pretty nice isn’t it.

  14. October 6, 2009    

    From Nobody’s Darlings to Memphis Darlings. The boys got it right w/this one. Easily the best album of the year.

  15. October 7, 2009    

    having been on many fan boy tours and about to go on another one, i really hope this album does what it should do for the guys … take them to the next level. that way we can be sure to have albums for a long, long time…as for it being different, so what. i hated nobody’s darlings when it came out, now…heavy rotation. and “can’t feel a thing” is epically good.

  16. October 7, 2009    

    As far as selling out goes, if being on a major counts as such now days, I have to say that it looks like Lucero got it right where the Avett Brothers got it wrong.

    As stated above this album totally makes sense in the Lucero catalog. Good shit, I must see them next time they are in CA, I miss them every freakin time!

  17. Davis Davis
    October 7, 2009    

    I love me some Lucero. That is all.

  18. brian brian
    October 8, 2009    

    what are you willing to lose!!!

  19. Dave Dave
    October 13, 2009    

    As a new Lucero fan (I was introduced to them when I was asked to portray the “Beer Fairy” in the video for “What Are You Willing to Lose” – sorry you didn’t like our work), I was absolutely blown away when I heard the album. It’s amazing, and enticed me to go out and get their entire back catalog, and I wasn’t disappointed.

  20. John John
    October 14, 2009    

    Dave I liked your video, couldn’t stop smiling the whole
    time. Took a lot of courage to wear that outfit for the
    world to see, you are a brave man. I appreciate all of
    the people who have worked to give us a smile, we need
    one most days.

  21. Chris Chris
    October 15, 2009    

    Apparently, the drawn-out post I was going to write is just too long. Here’s the condensed version:

    Didn’t like the new songs I heard before the record came out – except for ‘Darken My Door’ and ‘Goodybe Again.’ Wasn’t worried though. Didn’t like the early verions of RRSB’s songs either, and they’re now staples.

    ‘Smoke’ knocked my socks off as soon as I pushed play. Mind-blowingly good first track. The rest was hit or miss. Loved the record version of ‘Hey Darlin’, which was a great surprise, because the early cuts didn’t do it for me.

    On the second listen, 1372 really grew on me, and now I agree 100% with AIV that’s it’s a pure Lucero album. Amazing songs. The horns are a little over the top on only one song for me – Maggie. But it’s still a very solid tune. Really like the subdued Stax style on the others. Think they work very well.

    Cheers to the boys. They knocked it out of the park again. Hope they make some cash and we get to keep on listening to new Lucero albums for a long, long time.

  22. AdHoff AdHoff
    October 19, 2009    

    My 2 cents…album is pretty good, but not great. I enjoy most of the songs, but none of them really jump out at me. I am not a huge fan of “Rebels” but I remember the first time I heard “I Can Get Us Out of Here…” I had to listen to it four or five times in a row. None of these songs make me feel that way. Does anyone else think that “The Devil and Maggie” sounds strangely similar to Van Morrison “Bright Side of the Road”?

  23. Martin Luther Presley Martin Luther Presley
    October 20, 2009    

    to the folks who bought it on vinyl:

    is your copy as low on volume as mine???
    I have to turn up the stereo almost twice as loud as usual!

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