If you’ve read Nine Bullets on any kind of regular basis, or listened to Nine Bullets Radio or my radio show then you’ve most likely seen the name Todd Farrell Jr. He put out an EP a year or so ago and he recodred a theme song for Nine Bullets radio.
Towards the end of last year All Our Heroes Live In Vans was released by Todd Farrell Jr. & The Dirty Birds. It’s a solid rock record with its heart bleeding all over its sleeve. Up until recently I only knew Todd via the internet but I’ve often given him a hard time about being so young. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with being young or that I’m particularly old (though I’ve been accused by more than one friend of acting way older than my years) but there’s something refreshing about the youthful perspective on this record.
The nine songs on All Our Heroes… are dripping with the enthusiasm and indifference of youth. Treading in the same subject matters as The Hold Steady, these songs kneel at the alter of girls, booze, baseball, rock’n’roll and the rock’n’roll lifestyle. “Pawnshops” and “Liner Notes” address playing music and loving music, and like with The Hold Steady, as a fan it’s nice to see a musician who’s albe to admit to being a fan as well a player. They are not naive songs, the title of the album comes from a line in “Pawnshops” and demonstrates that the dreams in these songs are not about wealth or fame or grandiose aspirations. The dreams in these songs are about doing it, whatever doing it is.
There’s a heaping helping of joy in listening to four guys who are willing to run full-throttle into the wall. The Dirty Birds sound like a band that’s willing to throw a crunchy guitar riff into a song just for the fun of it. It maybe the only record they ever record together (though I doubt it) so why not jam it all in there.
There are lines on the album that make me think that in ten years Todd will laugh at himself for saying them. The one that jumps out to me most is from “Pawnshops.” “Yesterday I thought I’d sell my guitar/so I can buy all my friends drinks at the bar” sticks out to me every time I hear it. I wonder if ten years from now Todd will wonder what he was thinking. I don’t play guitar but I’ve got a pretty killer record collection and I wouldn’t sell any of them to buy drinks for friends. And I love my friends, but somethings are more important than a night out and pats on the back.
My hope is that Todd Farrell Jr. & The Dirty Birds spend as much time in 2014 as possible in a van playing shows in front of whoever shows up. Good nights and bad. I hope they keep writing and playing and chasing dreams. Because dreams ain’t nothing but things you haven’t done yet.
And if you think I sounded like a disgruntled old fart in this review, that’s fair. You still have dreams as you get older they’re just harder to say out loud, and there lies the beauty in All Our Heroes Live In Vans.