Just Barely Famous

Herb Eimerman

Jamrecordings, 2006

http://www.facebook.com/herb.eimerman

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 09/24/2006

Perhaps it was fate that I got around to listening to this just a few days after Arthur Lee died and a month or so after Syd Barrett died, becase both of those influences seem very prevalent in Herb Eimerman's latest CD.

Just Barely Famous is an unabashedly old-school set of power pop that could have been recorded by the Kinks, but with the psychedelic edges of Barrett and the folk outlook of Lee. It's an entirely retro CD, with absolutely nothing modern except maybe the production, making this both instantly familiar and highly unnecessary.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Eimerman plays pretty much everything here, and nearly anytime a musician does this you can feel the joy behind what they're doing. It has a similar feel to McCartney, and at times Eimerman recalls the solo Beatles in his work, particularly the lovely "Stuck Inside A Cloud," and the Byrds, as on "Tell Me Where" and the opening "Inside Joke," a rather catchy number. "Make A Wish" has a Beach Boys feel as well, while "I Leave It All Up To You" would make Paul Simon proud.

In fact, this is the main problem with Just Barely Famous -- Eimerman has no voice of his own. His vocals are double-tracked on every song, and it seems he's trying more to imitate styles than create one of his own. This results in minor differences across each song, but they all are buffed to a sheen, the power-pop production of the early 90s that bands like the Replacements favored. But it's meaningless when you can't tell the songs apart, no matter how good they sound.

The flourishes are minor but they don't serve to distinguish the tunes either; a guitar solo here, some shimmering keyboards there, etc. Each song is a slice of cotton candy, lifted right out of a 1967 British pop time capsule, and you really only need to listen to one or two to get the sense of the CD. Only "Stuck Inside A Cloud" and "Inside Joke" merit repeat listens, as they are the tracks that stand out from the pack.

When it was over, I had forgotten everything that had just played, because 16 of the same song just doesn't hold much musical weight. Eimerman obviously enjoys making this sort of pop, but he has yet to find his own voice -- it's painfully clear who his influences are, and when one can play "Spot the Sensitive Singer/Songwriter" instead of listen to an album, it's not anything that needs to be heard more than a couple of times. Power pop fans and 60s folk lovers may enjoy this, but everyone else will be bored.

Rating: C

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