Halfaworldaway

Mike Farley Band

RTT Records, 2000

http://www.facebook.com/mikefarleyband

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 01/11/2001

The music industry is filled with bands who will never make it past the garage, as well as bands who probably will never rise above being local heroes. It's not that these bands are bad, or that they don't have the talent needed to rise to the next level. It's just that some of them don't differentiate themselves from the rest of the pack, and their own unique work ends up sounding like so many other groups out there.

I hate declaring a band to be like this, especially a group who is trying to work their way up. So, allow me to apologize to the Mike Farley Band from Cleveland, Ohio, for what I'm going to say about their sophomore independent disc my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 halfaworldaway. You're not bad by any sense of the word, but I don't get a sense that I'm hearing anything unique or special in your music.

The group - vocalist/acoustic guitarist Mike Farley, lead guitarist/backing vocalist Jeff Nagel, bassist/backing vocalist Jeff Beam and drummer/backing vocalist Joe Rohan - have a pleasant enough mode of operation. Their music sounds like a cross betweeen the acoustic stylings of Hootie & The Blowfish and the alternative bend of Duncan Sheik. On paper, that's not a bad-sounding combination, and musically it's decent enough. Where the problem comes in is that Farley and crew not only don't add enough of their own flavor to the mixture, but they can't keep it sounding interesting to the listener.

And it's not that they're not trying. Tracks like "When It All Comes Down," "She's Alone Tonight" and "Secrets" all show that the Mike Farley Band is committed to making a name for themselves in the pop-rock vein. But the bulk of the material here just isn't exciting enough to grab someone's attention and make them want to sit down for the 45 minutes halfaworldaway demands of them.

Some tracks, like "Can't Be Your Man" and "3000 Miles," just fall short of the target, and have inklings of what could have been decent tracks. Others, like "Comes With A Conscience" and "Iowa" (what is it with indie bands singing about Iowa these days?) fail to catch the listener's ear at all.

For all this, I neither want to declare halfaworldaway a failure nor the Mike Farley Band as dreamers. If anything, I'd prefer to look at this disc as a decent but flawed effort, and hope that with time logged on the road and in the studio, everything will naturally come together. It just hasn't happened on this disc, but that doesn't mean it's not possible. And there are enough moments on this disc to suggest to me that it all will eventually gel for the Mike Farley Band. Until then, it's best to put them back in the oven and let the band simmer for about another six to twelve months.

Rating: C+

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© 2001 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of RTT Records, and is used for informational purposes only.