BoDeans — Still

He and He LP
By Al Kaufman

For over 20 years, Kurt Neumann and Sam Llanas, the core of the BoDeans, have been doing what they do. They play their Wisconsin rock and roll with a lot of melody, some harmony, a little twang, and a whole lot of sweat. Call it rock from the heartland, alt-country, Americana, roots rock; none of it really fits. What it really is, is music that goes great in a hot stinky bar when you have a cold beer in one hand and a pretty girl in the other. Never in their 22-year history have the BoDeans even tried to offer more than that. While for some this may lead to stagnation, for Llanas and Neumann it is achieving the essence of rock and roll and not wishing to stray from it.

Still offers more of the same. After experiencing difficulties with various record labels in the late ‘90s and early 2000s, they released Still on their own He & He label, but called in mastermind producer T-Bone Burnett, who also produced their stellar debut back in 1986, Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams. Neumann and Llanas have continued to write about those same four topics to this day. They may not rock as hard as they did back then, but the guitars still jangle, and Neumann’s gruff vocals still wrap lovingly around Llanas’ nasal tones. “Round Here Somewhere” is as infectious as “Closer to Free” (the Party of Five theme song and the BoDeans only top 40 hit). The rest of the CD maintains the happy groove, which still goes down well with a beer and girl.

The BoDeans play the Variety Playhouse Tuesday, March 24. 8 pm. $23 – Find tickets


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