Tuesday, May 10, 2016

WASHINGTON SQUARES-The Washington Squares (1987)


Having trekked back into the 80's again, I thought it was about time I got some other things sitting in my stack of unlistened-to material squared away. So into the music player went the self-titled debut album by one of the more interesting bands I've had the opportunity to check out this year: THE WASHINGTON SQUARES. It was a random gift offered up by somebody in my music circles.....and I'd say their music—not to mention the somewhat oddball lyrics accompanying the ten recordings featured on it—is just as random as the name the two guys and the gal making up this campy group selected for themselves. I pretty much gpt that let's-just-go-with-the-flow attitude from everything that this band puts forth—from their unique folk-punk sound to the political messages enforced in their songwriting—and the end result for me was a swift, 30+ minute whirlwind of easy-to-catch-on-to tunes that made for quite an entertaining listen. My ears were met with satisfaction right away with the easy-listening acoustic guitar-driven sound of the opener, "New Generation", which I somehow found myself listening to a total of three times before I completed my first go-round with this WASHINGTON SQUARES bunch. Something about the sound and how it gradually grew on me.....I think subconsciously, I was more in the mood for something in the realm of soft rock than I realized. No rain pouring down today in my neck of the woods, but the sound of Track #2's "Can't Stop The Rain" was like a steady downpour of music goodness with its new-wavish punk beat and the gal's very appealing voice on lead, noting how that slight touch of hoarseness in it was almost like a yodel. It was like gathering around the campfire tuning in to the song of reassurance that is "You Are Not Alone", hearing the two guys and the gal joining together in harmonic unison. It glows with comfort and happiness, despite its rather sad tonality. And it's one of the song's on this album that has a prevailing pop feel to it. "D Train": Immediately thought about the booming voice of the r&b/soul singer who carried that nickname when he broke out with the memorable hit "Keep On" (that shows where my mind was when I got to this track). No disco trains here, but I did get to enjoy a particularly perky guitar rhythm that made me feel like dancing anyways. Becomes especially catchy with the gritty vocals of the guy telling the humorous tale about riding on the d-train line. Only thing is, the tale—and the song—are much too short! "You Can't Kill Me" is catchy pop fun, too highlighted by the excellent and skilled guitar work and the part of the main chorus I like the most that gets drilled into my head: 'shoot-shoot-shoot'. Was somebody having a bad morning when he or she wrote the mad-at-the-world lyrics to "Daylight"? The line that goes 'daylight, you betta get the hell on outta here' answers that question with a resounding 'yes', I must say. Though as mad as the songwriter was, this one is ultra-catchy, too—something I can totally relate to, and a slapped-together, whatever-is-on-their-mind songwriting style that I can appreciate. "He Was A Friend Of Mine" is a wonderful listen because the guy and the gal make a lovely singing pair. I like how she joins in with her vocals just a split second after him before joining him in unison during the main chorus; it's what attracted me the most. "Walls (Polish Union Song)": the album's concluding cut sounds so nice with its slow, breezy flow—a mixture of a bluesy sway with a touch of country folk—yet the words speaking about chains breaking their will, walls having to tumble and the old world needing to be buried suggest something else that's dark and haunting beneath the music:

1. New Generation
2. Can't Stop The Rain
3. You Are Not Alone
4. D Train
5. You Can't Kill Me
6. Daylight
7. He Was A Friend Of Mine
8. Lay Down Your Arms
9. Samson And Delilah
10. Walls (Polish Union Song)

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