Friday, March 7, 2008

The BoDeans

Thursday, March 13th @ Bourbon Rocks – 1:00 AM

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“Still” is one of those words that can take on a variety of meanings depending on its context. For the BoDeans, it means building on the past to deliver something fresh in the context of today, with “Still” being the eighth studio album from a band whose history suggests its success is inevitable. Once again teaming with Grammy-winning producer T-Bone Burnett, the BoDeans have crafted 12 new tracks full of the heartfelt lyrics, passionate harmonies, and ringing guitars they have become known for. With everything from laid-back grooves to upbeat hooks, “Still” rediscovers the group’s essence while simultaneously showcasing their renowned talent, arguably resulting in their best work yet.

Nearly three decades ago, the BoDeans were formed when Kurt Neumann and Sammy Llanas initiated a unique singing and songwriting partnership in Waukesha, Wisconsin. The partnership was built on give and take, whether in the trading of lyrical or melodic ideas, an exchange of guitar riffs, or the blending of vocal harmonies. As frontmen for what would become one of America’s premier roots-rock bands, the duo forged a signature sound based on heartfelt lyrics, passionate harmonies, and ringing guitars.

The distinct sound of the BoDeans first emerged on their critically acclaimed debut, “Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams,” which also saw production by T-Bone Burnett. Released on Slash/Warner Bros. in 1986, the album reached 115 on the Billboard charts and quickly propelled the group into the national spotlight. This initial success for the BoDeans would soon be surpassed by their 1987 release, “Outside Looking In,” which broke into the Billboard Top 100. A tour with U2, an appearance on Robbie Robertson’s self-titled debut solo album, and being named “Best New Band” by Rolling Stone magazine that same year only added fuel to the group’s already-blazing fire.

As if to confirm the status they had achieved, the BoDeans went on to release yet another Top 100 best-seller, 1989’s “Home.” The record was followed by “Black And White” in 1991, and by 1993, there was an urge for the group to return to their roots. The BoDeans decided to re-enlist T-Bone Burnett for the production of “Go Slow Down,” which ultimately yielded the “Party Of Five” theme song, “Closer To Free.” In 1996, around the time their sixth studio album, “Blend,” was released, “Closer To Free” found a home in Billboard’s Top 10. The song catapulted the BoDeans to even greater heights, and earned an ASCAP award for being one of the most played songs at radio that year.

After releasing both a “best of” and a rarities collection in the early 2000s, the BoDeans returned in 2004 with “Resolution” on Rounder/Zoe. The album’s single “If It Makes You” quickly jumped into the Top 10, where it resided for several weeks, and further validated the Wisconsin group’s national significance. “Homebrewed: Live From The Pabst” was released the following year on Back Porch/EMI, and the BoDeans, without skipping a beat, began writing “Still.”

In an industry where careers can be shorter than the duration of a song, the BoDeans have proven their longevity, which will undoubtedly be reinforced by the release of “Still.” The partnership between Kurt Neumann and Sammy Llanas has remained steadfast since the early ‘80s, withstanding the test of time and various all-star lineups. Despite an impressive past that includes eight albums in the Billboard Top 200 and multiple singles in the Top 40, the BoDeans—and more importantly, the partnership that is its core—aren’t about to call it quits anytime soon.