Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Generationals Relax A Groove On Heza

The third album from Ted Joyner and Grant Widmer, who make up both halves of the New Orleans-based Generationals, takes the duo in a more subdued and sensible direction than their earlier outings. It's the kind of album that catches you before your first cup of coffee and with sleep in your eyes.

Joyner and Widmer play it that way. There is something effortless in what they are doing here on Heza. That doesn't mean they were lazy in production. The sounds they make are laid out endlessly even and there is a smooth indie pop groove that comes across as smart as it is blissful.

A little less accessible but all the more enjoyable. 

Heza has a haziness that will likely make the 10-track album a little less commercial. I'm fine with listening to the Generationals without all the coffee and peanut butter cup distractions that epitomized their last LP. It also makes up for Lucky Numbers, the three-track single with only one exceptional song (Sale City).

Opening with Spinoza, the Generationals meet everyone's expectations with an up tempo relationship track offset by some half-hearted pleading. Some people wonder if the song has anything to do with the scripture, as the name might imply. Maybe. Maybe not. That's the beauty of it.

They follow up the heady (or maybe not heady) track Spinoza with Extra Free Year, which is characterized by its creatively inclined synth pattern and brooding delivery. Some people think it falls flat, but it is their laissez-faire attitude that makes the song and the entire album memorable.

Skip Say When and then give a little more listen to You Got Me. The song isn't memorable per se, but makes for a great lead in to Put A Light On. It's tracks like Put A Light On that make Heza feel more alternative than it was ever meant to be.

No, it's not a fast song and it doesn't infuse any guitars beyond a barely noticeable bass line. But the melody and inventive percussion arrangement carries a rock impression. It feels passive aggressive, much like the lyrics suggest. We drift along until it finally hits us to casually step off somewhere.

I Never Know is infinitely more convincing as the duo infuse more guitar into the groove, giving a low-key rock groove that matches the vocals well. The down side, of course, is once someone gets a taste of the Generationals with a bit more guitar, it's hard not to want more of it.

That happens later in I Used To Let You Get To Me and Durga III. The former song is the better of the two and might even be my favorite besides Spinoza. There is a quiet matter-of-fact resolve in the telling that eventually bleeds into an underlying confidence.

Anyone can argue that the Generationals are going through the motions on Heza, but I don't think so. The added guitars lend well to the work, maybe even giving some people a taste of how these two high school friends originally started playing together in an indie rock band. That and the production wasn't thrown together. Someone obsessed about every second.

Heza By Generationals Creates A Hazy 6.3 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

Not every track wins on Heza, but the tracks that do can be played indefinitely. Spinoza, Put A Light On, Extra Free Year, and I Used To Let You Get To Me would have made an exceptional EP, with or without Durga III, which progressively gets better as the track plays on. None of them are memorable in the way a true indie rock album might be, but it's nice to hear these doing what they do best.

Heza by the Generationals can be found on Amazon. You can also pick up the LP from Barnes & Noble or download it from iTunes. The band is loaded up with tour dates starting this week in April. You can find out specific show times in the south and then northward on Facebook.
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