Rock N Roll Dream
The Throw Backs A Rock 'n' Roll Dream 2007 Newday Records If any local outfit deserves the hardest working underdog award, it's got to be Dale Schuster and The Throw Backs. Dale first made his mark here in the Twin Towns with his '80s post-punk outfit Civil Defense, and despite a few side trips and more than his share of sucker punches, he's kept at what he does best for over twenty years now. The Throw Backs are a musical extension and natural progression of Civil Defense--the social, political, and personal relationships he railed and raged about back in the day are still present here, albeit with the added ingredients of years of experience and musical transformation obvious and straight-up. The band has a killer tune up on their MySpace page called 'We're The Throwbacks,' in which Dale intones his band's credo and his own personal manifesto much better than I could ever word it: 'In a cut-and-paste world full of internet song samples, teen idols and videos, there once was a band. They were hard to label, and never fit in. Always playing the right style at the wrong time. So they went away, never to sing again. But in time, they realized something: They don't care if they're not the 'happening thing,' nor do they care what the critics think. They've accepted and embraced their underdog fate. As long as their words and music come from the heart, the band will never part. They're back at last--they are The Throw Backs.' While it's likely true that most of today's 'critics' just can't seem to find the time to really get behind local outfits and attempt to bring the Twin Cities back to the forefront of the nation's current music scene, after hearing both their debut album and A Rock 'n' Roll Dream, I almost suspect that ol' Simon Barsinister and Riff Raff have taken over the entertainment sections of some of our more prestigious local press outlets. This band kicks ass, and in a perfect world you'd know just as much about them as you do Ryan Adams or Bright Eyes or Damien Rice. Or maybe it's just that I've actually taken the time to hang out with this album, let it flow through me, around me, above me and found a treasure chest full of one punk/pop nugget after another. Singer/multi-instrumentalist Schuster, along with his vocalist/keyboardist partner Jo Lynn, drummer/bassist Todd Nicosia, vocalists Cali Anderson and Vince Karschnia and sax-man Phillip Veording expertly combine their individual talents on this delightful collection of up-tempo, roof-rattling rock 'n' roll. Kicking off with dark organ riffs and Schuster's honey-dipped pipes, the title track manages to combine the giddiness of vintage New York Dolls, the pop savvy of Badfinger and the working-stiff ethos of Bruce Springsteen. 'Hold On To Your Dreams' is a driving, pumping beast of a pop anthem that finds the band in perfect harmony and channeling the Kinks, Mott The Hoople and just a touch of the Moody Blues. Schuster lays down an absolutely blistering guitar solo here, proving he hasn't lost any of the fire he used to spew with Civil Defense. 'Tale Of Land To Sea' roils out on a Squeeze-ish vibe, unsettling yet impossible to ignore, the band members exploding in their own directions while always riding the sure bass line behind the tune. 'Cali' kicks off acoustically, then begins to rumble and thunder with all the power of a Neil Young classic; 'When Love Was Young,' one of the few ballads here, flows out of the speakers like a perfect amalgamation of Nick Drake and Jeff Buckley, Schuster asking, 'Tell me if it's wrong / To daydream, when our love was young / Take me back, take me back to the days, when our love had just begun ...' 'L.P.'s' is a smashing ode to lost love and vinyl records, Schuster lamenting the fact that he can't make either his relationship or his turntable work, Jo Lynn providing powerful backing vocals and the tune augmented by harmonica and old-school axe work, ending with the sound of an album scritching and scratching as if the song were really recorded back in the day. 'Baby Boomers' bounces and jangles like a Supergrass single, Schuster bemoaning lost innocence and voicing his concerns for the next generation. There's really not a stinker in this batch, but my fave has to be the raucous punk ditty 'Anxiety,' which captures the fury and frazzle of Schuster's heyday with Civil Defense and finds him howling, 'I just wanna die!' amidst a veritable guitar assault. If you dig The Kinks, Bowie, Lou Reed, mid-period Beatles and classic post-punk, this album's for you. Well worth owning and a great comeback for a band that's definitely in the 'Should've Been' category for the 'Cities. Highly recommended. Check 'em out for yourself at myspace.com/newdayrecordsdschuster.