Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.
If there is any place in the United States synonymous with old people, it’s most certainly Florida. It’s a tropical paradise for your parents after retirement. Perhaps my favorite thing about the band we’re featuring today on the Independent Spotlight, is their inviting nature to this reality. W.B. and the Geezers are putting out their newest record, titled ‘You See Old... I See History.’ Before delving into their new tunes, though, let’s learn a bit about the duo to lend some context to the music.
W.B. and the Geezers is headed by Bill Crouch and William Lake, two older gentleman who are ‘embracing their coming second childhood with instruments and drinks in hand.’ They toy with the idea of ridiculous ED commercials, senior dating, all while digging into some deeper themes as well. This release was engineered and produced by Les Ladd, a retired RCA producer who worked with the likes of the Outlaws and George Strait. Thus, I immediately expected a top notch sound.
The best part about the sound W.B. and the Geezers makes is its traditional nature. It’s a throwback to what country used to be. Melodic acoustic instrumentals, plodding percussion, a swooning steel guitar, and killer lead are all present. This is fantastic Americana, certainly rivaling music that bands twice as young are performing. ‘Weekend Angel’ is a great little trucker track akin to something Willie or Waylon would write.
The title track is an insightful tune, playing out the story of a few different Americans. There’s the war vet that gets repeatedly slapped in the face by the twentieth century, the bra-burning woman protester, and the trucker putting food on his family’s table. Their ‘cogs in the wheel of the American dream,’ ones that won’t be recorded in the history books. When you think about it, it’s quite a dark notion, one that feels conflicted about whether or not the ‘American Dream’ is attainable, and whether or not our actions toward it matter.
‘Delta Gamma Sigma’ calls out the feds out for all their crap, essentially pointing the finger at the NSA, the TSA, and pretty much every broken American institution. It’s a tactfully written song, one that’s very witty. I also dig how the Geezers fire shots over the bow at both conservatives and liberals. ‘Fix this mess,’ he croons over complaints about illegal immigration and wasteful foreign aid.
‘Children of the Streets’ is a haunting song, exploring the difficulties that kids deal with in broken homes - drunken parents, economic turmoil, prostitution, drugs, etc. Musically, the song is particularly gorgeous. The violin pieces remind of the ones on Bob Dylan’s ‘Desire.’ The story feels weighed down by the wisdom of the duo’s years. I mean that in a good way, that these men have been around the block and have probably seen too much of all these problems they’re articulating.
Fear not, the contemplative, dark hole that you dug into while listening to ‘Children’ will quickly go away. ‘Round Bottom Girls’ is every bit as peculiar as you’d think it’d be. I’m not gonna’ lie - There’s something inherently creepy about the word ‘jiggle’ in mostly any context. With that said, the song is a kick and it’s not meant to be taken seriously. It’s absolutely something you’d hear on a Willie Nelson record.
‘Ocean Blue’ is an introspective number with oceanic sound effects, fingerpicked classical guitar, and a flute. It’s a stark contrast to the rest of the music we’ve heard before it. There’s a hand off of the lead vocals, and it works very well. ‘The Earth Still Spins’ is quite a simple idea: live life to the fullest and don’t let your dreams pass you by. The inclusion of sporadic saxophone is unique and welcome - It’s not often a sax and a steel guitar bounce off each other.
‘Shout to the World’ is one of my favorite songs on the album; I really love the gospel-like nature of it. It feels like a retrospective of the lyricist’s life, a joyful one at that. ‘I Got the Nut’ is a killer tune as well, again switching the lead vocals and heavily infusing the saxophone into the mix. It sounds a bit like a Bill Kirchen track. (The ‘Hot Rod Lincoln’ guy for all of you who have no idea who that is.)
‘That’s Why It’s Called Pain’ is a straight up lover’s turmoil - certainly a relatable number for anyone who’s touched lips with their own personal Judas. ‘Diamonds and Coal’ a song about a country singer’s wife that never seemed to land in the right place. Finally, the album closes out with ‘US.’ It’s a love track, one that feels less cynical than the rest of the album, perhaps even idealistic. It’s an interesting dichotomy after hearing songs like ‘That’s Why It’s Called Pain’ and ‘Delta Gamma Sigma.’
‘You See Old... I See History’ is a wonderful record. It’s fun, entertaining, insightful, emotional, and everything in between. It’s a hell of a ride that’s remarkably well performed, written, and mixed. W.B. and the Geezers rival acts half their age. I was worried their sound would fall into monotony after several tracks, but they find a way to make each song as interesting as the last, largely in part due to such solid writing. Check out the group online at the links below.