In the time I’ve been writing about these guys here on ninebullets they’ve gone from a little lovable band from the Midwest to “band to watch” status. Having completed nationwide tours with a whole list of ninebullets favorites such as Jason Isbell, Clutch, and William Elliot Whitmore, Bloomington, IL’s Backyard Tire Fire are back in 2010 on their own label and with a new album, Good To Be.
In previous reviews/articles I’ve routinely mentioned that these guys could have easily slid into the Capricorn-era sound. I can not say that about Good To Be. There may be the occasional Capricorn overture in their sound, but they’re wholly modern with their current sound. Problem is, the Capricorn-era feel was one of the things I genuinely loved about Backyard Tire Fire, so the first few listens of Good To Be left me wanting. After multiple listens, as tends to be the case, that wanting started to fade and I began to listen to the album for what it was, not what I expected it to be, and I finally warmed up to it.
The album opens with, IMO, it’s best song, “Roadsong #39”. It’s a fantastic grooving piece about (I imagine) running around the country in a rock and roll band. There is a line in the song that I love that says, “there’s a smell that I know at the end of the show, it’s sweaty and it’s smoky and it’s ripe and it’s rock and roll.” I think anyone who attends shows on a regular basis knows the origin of that line. “A Thousand Gigs Ago” treads in the touring band/van mindset, offering an uncompromising glimpse into the reality of being in a small touring band. Thing is, however, Micah Schnabel does it 100 times better, but I say that not to slam Backyard Tire Fire. Hell, I like the band, but I feel like they got lazy with this album. Specifically, I think they got lyrically lazy with this album and think that helps to explain why I liked the album more as I listened to it. See, I’m a lyrics guy, so the first time I listen to your album I am totally focused on the lyrics and I move out from there.
With that said, I’d say Good To Be is a steak dinner with Chinese food for lyrics. Musically, it has great grooves, it’s catchy and utterly enjoyable. Lyrically, it’s fine and totally “sing-along-able” but pretty thin under close inspection. Hopefully, this is just a blip, ’cause I *loved* the lyrical content of their last album, The Places We Lived. Regardless, this is 4 gazillion times better than Lady Antebellum and should be checked out.
Backyard Tire Fire – Roadsong #39
Backyard Tire Fire – Brady
Backyard Tire Fire – A Thousand Gigs Ago
Backyard Tire Fire’s Official Site, Backyard Tire Fire on myspace, Buy Good To Be