Reviews:: The Milwaukee's Best Band It's All Over But the Cryin'

One of the benefits of being drastically out of touch with the music scene is that when you stumble on a defunct band for the first time (like the Get Sets - who broke up in 06), a little bit of research puts you onto the new endeavors of the band members. Case in point, front man Paul Jantzi decided to start a solo project and invite a huge collection of friends to help him out after a few of his trios folded. The result is a collection of musicians known as The Milwaukee's Best Band and their debut record - It's All Over But the Crying - is an energetic journey that has songs that could have been record in the 50's or 60's and every generation after.

Despite the vast amount of players in this band (over a dozen at times) the songs are surprisingly accessible and intimate. This is probably because the songs were recorded live off the floor and they captured the sound by jamming an insane amount of mics and instruments into a tiny space and shied away from studio tricks, but the band never tries to overpower the mix with soaring choruses and crescendos. As a result, the nostalgic pop feel the collective delivers really takes you back to a time where sing-a-longs and simpler melodies were the flavor of choice.

You start to feel like you are sitting in a small, smoky bar watching the local band play on a Saturday night. That attachment to the material and each other really shines through, and when the band settles into catchy grooves like the impossibly addictive Gutter Bound, you can't help but smile and enjoy the ride.

The background noise and band banter fits in with the loose feel of the recordings. Instead of taking countless hours to record over polished versions of these songs, Paul and producer Orson Presence really kept the focus on the camaraderie of the musicians. The songs hit nicely on Motown, country, folk (often in the same song) but the most impressive aspect of the songs is how much fun the band has playing them. I'm not trying to say the record is sloppy, far from it, but if the songs were rehearsed and polished until they were perfect, It's All Over But the Crying would have sounded like any other band trying to rehash 50's pop tracks.

Instead, songs like The Way She Goes crackle with great harmonies, group shout-alongs and an onslaught of subtle percussion nestled just behind the guitar and horns. Probably because the visions of Be Kind Rewind are still fresh in my head, but all I can think about is how this collection of songs takes you back to a time when music was more about the way musicians worked together. In years past, a spontaneous solo, a new voice jumping in after getting moved by the spirit (like the echoing "I'm not a hater" yelled from the back of the room) or even the slightest mistake gave the song it's character and such is the case on this record. The contributions of each member are important; the faintest noise maker or muffled voice is as much a part of the end result as a perfect horn section or Paul's baritone vocals.

As enjoyable as this record is - seriously, just listen to There She Goes and try not to enjoy the jangle of the guitar, the horns and steady drumming - I can't even imagine how fun this band must be live. It would be the type of show that people start banging along with any object they can find.
[MP3]:: I See Beauty

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