The Lucksmiths

Boondoggle

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This time recording with a variety of friends in guest spots from other vocals to cello and horns, the Lucksmiths followed up First Tape with the equally enjoyable romp Boondoggle, running about the same length of time but with fewer and therefore generally longer tunes. All the immediate charm of First Tape easily carried over to Boondoggle, with the band again performing like they have a bunch of happy ants in their collective pants. White's just wonderful once again as the drumming frontman, his merry, inviting tone making lines like "I feel like a boy who's killed a dove" still sound like a sparkling summer afternoon. Donald's no slouch with his lead turns either, and with the group's upbeat and thoroughly enjoyable music galloping along (and all this during the supposedly dour days of post-grunge circa 1994 -- keep in mind Silverchair was gearing up to start trying to take over the musical world). Light funk helps propel "Tree" and "21" in slightly unexpected but successful directions, while "The Baker's Wife" is one of the merriest yet saddest songs ever written, all in under a minute's time. There are plenty of calmer, quieter moments, though -- the string-touched "Summer Town" is easily a highlight, especially given the intriguing lyrical sentiment that begs for autumn in the midst of the high heat of the year, all without sounding morose. "Umbrella" is another low-key winner, White's voice and Donald's acoustic guitar a simply lovely combination, Monnone's bass adding just enough dark undertow. The band's greatest accomplishment on Boondoggle? Perhaps it's demonstrating that the harmonica need not be a wheezy signifier of po-faced authenticity -- its use on "Clever Hans," for one, is a pure, unalloyed joy. And the song itself is a tempo-shifting extended epic -- at least in acoustic guitar and shuffling drums terms, and why not?

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