The first (and best) album by Portland, OR's Dharma Bums is a solid piece of late-'80s American indie guitar pop, a little too light on personality to make it really big, but quite fun on its own merits. Scott McCaughey produced the album, and the loose-limbed, country-tinged pop/rock of his then-band the Young Fresh Fellows is obviously the Dharma Bums' most direct inspiration; songs like "Boots of Leather," "Jet Pilot," and "Farmyard" have the Young Fresh Fellows' characteristic mix of whimsy and muscle, though the lyrics are less clever than McCaughey's own. Jeremy Wilson's hoarse voice is perhaps a little too rough-edged for the tuneful twang of Eric Lovre's jangly pop tunes; the overall effect of songs like "Cruel Acres" is that of Paul Westerberg fronting Guadalcanal Diary, a combination that doesn't quite work as well as it might. However, the songs are so tuneful and catchy that it's easy to overlook the flaws most of the time.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason