Album Review

Bobby Bare Jr. - Young Criminals Starvation League The Longest Meow

Bobby Bare Jr. - Young Criminals Starvation League The Longest Meow

Impulses of immediacy and unpredictability highlight the third release from Bobby Bare Jr.'s Young Criminals Starvation League. Bare has enlisted members of My Morning Jacket, Lambchop, Clem Snide and others at the outer vistas of alt-country, with results that defy expectation as well as categorization. Recorded in a single session of eleven hours, the music ranges from the boogie of "The Heart Bionic" to the island lilt of "Strictly Chemical" to the buoyant pop of "Snuggling World Championships". "Uh Wuh Oh" offers a quick blast of rave-up rock, while "Gun Show" begins as an intimate acoustic ballad that builds to an electric squall. On the countrier side, "Demon Valley" manages to namecheck both the pope and Sonny & Cher. It's as if even the musicians aren't sure where this music is going or how a song might end when it begins. And that's all to the good, for what distinguishes the younger Bare from the run of the alt-country mill is his refusal to follow formula and conform to expectation. In its own way, this music has as much spark as the heartfelt comeback album he produced for his dad, which also employed an eclectic group of alt-country progressives for decidedly different results. You put Bobby Bare Jr. in a room with a bunch of like-minded musical adventurers and you never know what you'll get. Maybe even an acoustic cover of the Pixies' "Where Is My Mind", which might be payback for Frank Black's recent forays into Americana.