Under Review: Gordon Gano & The Ryans – Under The Sun

So, here’s the thing: of course a Gordon Gano record, solo or otherwise, is going to have bits of the Violent Femmes in it.  I mean, why shouldn’t it?  The Femmes were a breath of fresh air when they debuted, bridging the gap between Jonathan Richman’s rambling punk and homespun roots folk.  With his new backing group, The Ryans (made up of ex-Bogmen Bill and Brendan Ryan), Gano revisits his rock days without abandoning his creative spark.  The group’s debut album, Under The Sun, is like a Femmes album with a more intricate production (and, possibly, bigger budget).  Opener “Man In The Sand” implies that Under The Sun might be the kind of rootsy disc that picks up where the last Femmes album left off.  The very next track, though, “Wave And Water,” brings in a chorus of children, creating a very gospel feel.  These eclectic leaps give Under The Sun an incredible amount of character, and they’re all tied together with Gano’s familiar voice and darkly humorous lyrics.  The last half of the album is particularly impressive, with the zydeco-meets-beach party “The Way That I Creep” kicking off a string of unusual twists and turns.  “Oholah Oholibah” blends ragtime and cabaret, while the jazzy “Still, Suddenly Here” shows a side of Gano’s that might not come through in any Femmes albums.  Though he will forever be linked to his former band (and believe me, he could do a lot worse than that), Gordon Gano shows on Under The Sun that he isn’t going to sit around waiting for the royalty checks from “Blister In The Sun” to come pouring in.  Or, if he does, he’ll do it while continuing to create some great rock and roll.

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~ by E. on September 16, 2009.

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