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MP3 Hindurodeo - Nalladaloobr

Hard-edged melodic pop/rock with insightful, hook-laden lyrics.

13 MP3 Songs
ROCK: Modern Rock, POP: Pop/Rock

Great pop-rock albums are few and far between these days. In the new millenium, it''s a good year if ya hear more than one.

I''m not talking about great songs, or cool sounds, or hip and catchy guitar parts, or killer production, or trends that tantalize. And I''m sure not talkin'' about attitude, or any kind of look that will translate well to video. All that mess might be part of a primo album, but none of it''s all that hard-to-find, in and of itself, standing alone.

What is as rare as an underpaid pro ballplayer, or a Vegas dancer without implants, is an album where every song is hummable, every lyric is smart, every track jumps out and makes an impression, and the band can really play. An album that''s loaded with melodic hooks, chock full of pointed punch lines, and awash in fine musicianship. An album where the production is terrific, yet never overwhelms the songcraft, never is used to disguise shoddy work or dress up dull writing.

I have no idea what the hell Nalladaloobr means, but I''m convinced that this is one of those killer records that hits on all cylinders, that gets better with each listen, one of those discs that in a fractured, niche-happy, ghettoized marketplace renews one''s faith in the immediacy and impact of rock as a language of cool.

The more I hear it, the more I''m certain "Band With My Dad" is a masterpiece, the song no one but Joel Sayles could or would pen, funny and deep. And it''s the tenth friggin'' cut on the album! By that time, the Hindurodeo boys have already alienated radio programmers not once, but twice, with the wickedly pointed and catchy and true-to-life "Radio Ready" and the even more cynical and just as sadly true, "Dumb It Down." What p.d. is even gonna get to "Band With My Dad," or the potential FM hit, "Another Monday"?

Probably none, and that''s what happens routinely to the venerable NRBQ, and what happened to Jellyfish with their brilliant debut disc, and what nearly happened to Ben Folds on Caroline Records (but for some enlightened college jocks). And it''s what might well happen to the Beatles and Zombies and Who and post-surfin'' Beach Boys if they had the bad fortune to be new bands today. The fact is classic pop is rarely popular anymore, which makes it all the more heroic that Hindurodeo soldiers on and delivers the mighty goods on every cut of Nalladaloobr, refusing to add a lameass rapper, or some arena jack-off guitar parts, or a post-electronica machine-made remix, or anything else that''s supposed to sell like Shinola, though it still is indubitably shit.

Sayles doesn''t seem to care much about his commercial prospects. Some rock songwriters have a chip on their shoulder. Joel Sayles has a boulder about the same size as the one Sisyphus kept trying to roll uphill. He''s the Eugene McCarthy of rock -- too bright, too cynical and too jaded for the job, yet funny as all get out, always great to have around.

Hindurodeo sabotages its slim-enough chances with songs including the potentially audience-baiting "McLife" and "Strip Bar" and "American People," and by dropping an f-bomb 30 seconds into the impossibly catchy, "Radio Ready." These guys are not green or ambitious or young or star-eyed enough to expect the "American People" to embrace them as even the next cult thing. Sayles is making the music he loves -- take it or leave it. "Waiting for the world/my genius to proclaim" -- yeah, right.

I''ll shout it out, right here, right now. At his best, Sayles is a killer pop-rock songwriter. And he''s just one piece of the mighty Hindurodeo triangle. Jimi Englund is a terrific rock drummer, clever and versatile and power-packed. Dating back to college in Wisconsin, he''s been a constant musical companion of Mr. Sayles, not only in Hindurodeo, but also on projects by Billy McLaughlin, Peter Mayer, and Stuart Davis, and in an earlier band called Spangalang. These guys connect on some primal level.

Meanwhile, Dirk Freymuth''s been busy getting his doctorate in early music out in L.A. Folk fans have seen him crisscrossing the nation with mandolin and fiddle master Peter Ostroushko, of "A Prairie Home Companion" fame. And Freymuth''s been a studio sideman recently for The Proclaimers, and for the folk duo, Neal & Leandra. More to the point, Dirk''s already a summa cum laude post-grad master of rock guitar, class of George Harrison. The proof''s in every laser-beamed note of Nalladaloobr.

Which brings us back to Mr. Sayles, who proved he had the "chops" to be a first-call bar jazz bassist while still in his teens. But that music never hit him deep in the gut, never resonated quite the way it should have. Joel didn''t look in the mirror and see bebopper.

Nor did he see a clock-punching man with a studio tan. Though Sayles has been mighty impressive as a hired gun. And he can always be a hired gun again, if necessary, to pay the mortgage. Sayles'' production credits include a slew of popular music-meets-nature efforts -- y‚know, those releases where babbling brooks and chirping birds get sampled by studio sessioneers -- ambient or easy-listening or "new age" CDs for Target stores, and other places with kiosks.

Better yet, Sayles has produced some very nice and indeed "radio-ready" soft-rock albums. Check out Alice Peacock‚s recent hit on Aware/Columbia, for which he also co-wrote the best song - "Leading With My Heart." Joel''s likewise done ace production work with other talented singer-songwriters, including Stuart Davis and Peter Mayer. He"s even worked with TJ, of the boy band Take 5.

But I digress. Listen to "Radio Ready." Listen to "Another Monday." Listen to "Band With My Dad." Then listen to ''em again. If you''re not humming or singing along by the second spin, or at least energized and smiling, maybe you''re more radio-ready than the band. If so, may god have mercy on your ears.

Tom Surowicz, freelance writer, regular contributor to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, host of "Monday Evening Jazz" on KBEM-FM radio (Minneapolis/St. Paul), barfly, Hindurodeo fan.

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