Josh Dion

Anthems for the Long Distance

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Where Josh Dion Band's 2005 debut, Give Love, is an unapologetic blast of tight 1970s funk and soul, Anthems for the Long Distance does the same with '70s Band-style country-rock and blues, pulling off the time-travel sound with matching amounts of vigor and musicianship. The first track, "Makin My Livin," announces both the genre shift and the high energy level with infectious, danceable, bluesy rock seasoned with easy-to-swallow complex rhythms, changing tempos, and out-of-the-past guitar solos. "Line Em Up" continues in kind with an animated clap-along as Dion hollers of hobos, hipsters, and ministers, as if to lyrically denote the album's melting pot of audible influences from New Orleans jazz to blues-rock and Americana. "Feel," with its quick tempo, rapid-fire lyrics, strong vocal-harmony lines, wah-wah effects, and rhythmic brass, necessitates movement of at least the head and hips -- and that limitation only for the self-conscious. Recorded live with minimal overdubbing, Anthems is an accomplishment in performance, especially considering that Josh Dion is both the band's lead singer and drummer. Despite the step away from Give Love, his manic baritone still brings plenty of soul to the party and is frequently doubled by Sarah Versprille, turning up the voltage even higher. It's a monumentally fun record for those willing to give into the construct of something so out of sync with its New York City/Brooklyn indie rock contemporaries and the charts, and even notably different from the band's prior work. With backgrounds including jazz -- Dion and bassist Brian Killeen are former members of jazz combo ulu -- and a demonstrated ability over two records to write and throw down funk, soul, rock, roots, gospel, and more, Josh Dion Band may have run into the problem: when you can do it all, what do you do?

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