The Boggs

We Are the Boggs We Are

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    5
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They are the Boggs, they are, and that's about all they seem able to say about their musical identity. The casual listener will hear shades of the Pogues in the sloppy ensemble playing, prominent banjo, and willfully unintelligible vocals of singer/songwriter/bandleader Jason Friedman. But there's more than just fake Irish music going on here. There are also excursions into fake Appalachian ballads ("Emily, O Emily"), fake Delta blues ("Poor Audrey James"), and a whole bunch of weird little untitled instrumental interludes. There are some interesting melodies sprinkled throughout this sprawling mess of an album, and there is some very expert guitar playing carefully hidden beneath the band's studied sloppiness. But the Pogues understood something that Friedman apparently has yet to learn: what makes traditional music cool is not sloppiness or archaic syntax or bad sound. What makes it cool are the very things he seems most determined to hide -- great tunes and artful lyrics. Sometimes a certain lack of technical skill comes with the territory and you make allowances for that, sometimes happily. But affected incompetence is not cool; it's just schtick.

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