The Molenes,
Good Times Comin'
(independent, 2010)

The Molenes are an act I probably would not have heard if not for the CDs that show up -- usually unbidden -- in a reviewer's mail. If the artist or band is unfamiliar to me, I put the disc on with zero, or at least seriously minimal, expectations. I make a point, only rarely excepted, of not reviewing anything I entirely dislike. After all, most of this music is being created on the margins by people who aren't getting rich, which strikes me as in itself evidence of virtue even if I am not taken with the results. By now, moreover, I've been exposed to so much music that usually I can tell within two or three cuts what's going on and whether I want to hear more of it.

Some records grow on me, the initial hint being that, on first hearing, I mutter an uncertain "hmmm" as I reflect that I want or need to hear more. The Molenes' Good Times Comin' -- the group's third release, I learn -- did that to me. About the third time around, I had fallen in love.

I favor all of their songs, but one of them in particular, "Rockin' Monophonic," puts me into an ecstatic state of consciousness. A simple paean to rock 'n' roll on AM car radio, it's the most pleasing song of its kind I've heard in 30 years, since Blasters anthems like "Border Radio" and "American Music." The Molenes' stripped-down lyrics don't reach for the ages, but riding atop the band's fluid sound, they convey perfectly the pleasures of musical moments in motion.

In 10 cuts (plus a hidden 11th, a thoroughly entertaining instrumental jam) these four guys -- based in Boston -- perform in an entirely unaffected style that manages to conjure up just about every reason this listener once fell under the spell of rockabilly, twangy rock 'n' roll, and all those beats and howls that carried them out of the backwoods. Miraculously, there seems no artifice here whatever. The Molenes are not trafficking in sentimentality or nostalgia; rather, the impression is that everything is what it is and it is happening right now at this second, where it belongs. You'd think these guys were put on earth to stand here at the crossroads of space, time and rock 'n' roll to do exactly this.

The songs are the work of Dave Hunter, who does the lead singing and plays assorted electric and acoustic guitars. The other three are Bruce Derr (pedal steel), Andrew Russell (bass, backing vocals) and Zach Field (drums, percussion). They're real good.

music review by
Jerome Clark

4 December 2010

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