Heidecker & Wood

Starting from Nowhere

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Comedy’s fascination with soft rock continues with Heidecker & Wood's Starting from Nowhere. The collaboration between Adult Swim series Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!’s Tim Heidecker and the show’s composer Davin Wood, the duo has inspirations that span from Bread, Seals & Crofts, and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young to Billy Joel, Gerry Rafferty, Steely Dan, and Mike Post. Indeed, their devotion to Yacht Rock-worthy silky acoustic guitars, supple electric pianos, squiggly analog synths, and breathily crooned vocals often exceeds their comedy pedigree. Songs like the bouncy “Right or Wrong” are miles away from Tim & Eric’s absurdist fare, and while “Cross Country Skiing” is definitely playful, it’s not laugh-out-loud funny. Instead, the way that “Weatherman” -- which must be the smoothest song ever about a highway traffic accident -- changes key exactly where it’s expected, or the way that the sitcom theme-worthy “Right to the Minute” boasts one of the most ingratiating sax solos that wasn’t recorded in the ‘70s or ‘80s, will draw appreciative nods and smiles from other soft rock diehards. It’s clear that the duo knows its stuff about the style, and even if these songs aren’t as nimble as, say, Ween's “Joppa Road,” which is still one of the funniest and most faithful soft rock homages, it just makes Starting from Nowhere seem that much more authentic. Though Heidecker & Wood overplay their hand occasionally, as on the eight-minute closing track “Christmas Suite” or the self-consciously gritty “She Left You,” most of the album is remarkably irony-free. The softer and smoother the duo gets, the funnier and more genuine the songs are; the gooey romance of “Wedding Song” and “Grandest Canyon”'s mystical musings both sound like forgotten tracks from an album released sometime during soft rock’s halcyon days of the mid-‘70s to early ‘80s, which is about the highest praise you can give a project like this. There’s absolutely nothing cool about this album, but that’s a big part of its appeal: Heidecker & Wood have the pop culture fluency and musical skills to pull off this homage in gloriously cheesy detail. Starting from Nowhere may be odd, but it’s also very enjoyable, especially for anyone who has a soft spot for soft rock.

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