Johnny Bertram and the Golden Bicycles – Neon City

January 01, 1970

(Esperanza
Plantation)

 

www.esperanzaplantation.com

 

It’s
funny when you expect a record to sound like something, based on the name of
the band or a photo of the band. This happened before, with the debut by this
band (Days That Passed) and I was
surprised then. Of this Portland, Oregon (via Mississippi) bunch I expected
beards, flannels and a record that sounded a lot like Fleet Foxes (which the
debut did a bit more) but this record has a touch of Band of Horses here, some
Matthew Sweet there and yes, some of that mellow Northwest folk that the kinds
love so much, if you know what I mean. Wait, you don’t know what I mean? Well,
keep reading.

 

Like
a lot of bands these days it’s hard to categorize their music, which is a
compliment to the band. It has a bit of a dusty feel, but isn’t really country,
it’s folky without sounding like they’re completely aping one specific band or
scene and at times some punchy power-pop rears its head and they do that well,
too. The one thing that sets Bertram and Co. ahead of the rest of the pack is
the strength of the songs. The melodies are strong as are the harmonies, and
tunes like the moody “Out of the Darkness,” the chunky “River” and the
country-inflected “The Sawtooth Range” and the dreamy/folky title track (all on
Side A) should boost this guys stock if anyone’s listening.

 

The
music on Neon City is like the food
at the Village Inn (where I went for the first timer last night) it’s cozy,
comforting and you want to keep going back to it (now if only the management at
the Village Inn would play this record during dinner time, that would be
something, eh?).

 

DOWNLOAD: “Out of the Darkness,”
“River,” “The Sawtooth Range,” “Neon
City,” “Mistake” TIM
HINELY

 

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