Broken Things - I love the chord transition from the verse to the “Oooooh, my love, my heart is set on you. Set On You!” chorus. Boyd’s violin solo is gonna be beast-mode live and get turned into a new Jimi/Billies jam. The intro to me sounds like a mashup of Bartender and Warehouse which is awesome. Dave’s falsetto kills it on the “Oooooh.”
Belly Belly Nice - This is dripping with funky Sly and the Family Stone influences. I guess that’s what happens when they’ve been playing “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Again)” religiously for the past 4 or 5 tours. This is in no way a bad thing.
Mercy - As far as full band slow jams go, this is one of the better ones in recent memory. There were a few decent ones on Groo, but he hasn’t had a slow jam that was geared for the full band and not just him playing solo as 1st song of an encore (e.g. Sister, Baby Blue) in a while. Tim is super subtle with his effects, Jeff and Rashawn keep it upbeat and Carter’s hi-hat work is up there with his drumming on Crash.
Gaucho - Dave bringing back out the days of fast-paced, notes-only verse riffs e.g. The Stone, Warehouse, Satellite. I’m not saying overall it’s as good as any of those, it’s not. But it is a very cool guitar part despite being simple and it lends itself to being built on by Tim’s electric, Stefan’s bass, Carter’s drums, and the horns, all of which seem to get their own time to shine throughout. I admit I’m not a big fan of the kids chanting, it’s a bit too Pink Floyd for me but that’s just me.
Sweet - While I am digging the ukulele a lot, I have to say that at the time of writing this (listening in the order of the album) it’s my least favorite so far. Like I mentioned in Mercy about the other slow jams, it seems to be written to be a solo performance song, which is fine, but then keep it unreleased or a teaser. Don’t waste a studio album, full-band track on it. The entry of Carter and Jeff into the mix at 3 minutes in feels like they came into the studio while Dave was recording, were like “Oh shit, we’re late,” and hopped on their instruments.
The Riff - Current favorite. Another slow builder that has a very note heavy guitar riff from Dave with a solid walking bass line on the guitar a la Best of What’s Around, Granny, or Jimi. By the time the second chorus rolls around I am totally ready for it when the band kicks in without even realizing it. Subtle build ups for the win. You can almost see the flashing strobe effect they will no doubt use on the jumbo-tron as they show Dave’s face, head thrown back as he leans away from the mic and holds “Everythiiiiiiiiiiiiiing.” In a spin on the old adage for March, this song comes in like a lamb but goes out like a lion.
Belly Full - I hated it. Then when it ended after only a minute and a half, I realized I loved it. It’s a sit on the front porch, hillbilly jam that I’d put on par with Dave’s solo track Butterfly.
If Only - If you sped this riff up and added distortion you’d have something that could be the lead guitar for an Everclear song. In spite of that, or possibly because of it, I totally dig it. It takes all the individual things I liked about the ill-fated Stand Up songs and combined them with the things I liked about the equally ill-fated Some Devil songs into something neither album had. A little bit of funky, clean electric guitar, simple guitar riffs, choppy snare by Carter, Dave mixing fast pace vocals and crooning falsettos. One of my favorites so far along with The Riff.
Rooftop - Dave done did it again! (said in Chris Rock voice from Pootie Tang.) He doesn’t always play electric, but when he does, he always crushes my mind-hole e.g. I Did It, Shake Me Like a Monkey, and Dreams of Our Fathers. This is no exception and actually reminds me a lot of the latter. It sounds like he’s using his signature 2 frets over, 1 string down pattern that he pulls in songs like Dreams, Warehouse, Satellite etc. Tim’s solo could’ve used a bit less chorus and fuzz or whatever that was but it was only 10 seconds long and Carter’s crazy drum fills overwrote it in my mind almost immediately. C-Boof on the drums is definitely going to get a spotlight, crowd-pleasing drum solo on this live.
Snow Outside - 50/50 on this. I don’t know if that was Tim on a resonator or lap steel slide guitar in the background but someone needed to make it stop. Also this song sounds like it was pieced together from old songs. The hammer-on heavy guitar riff sounds like it can be a combo of Sister/My Baby Blue and Grace is Gone and Oh, and he re-used the line “When you are here with me,” also from Oh. That said, I don’t hate it and the outro is fantastic and sounds like it could be an interlude somewhere on Before These Crowded Streets especially with how you hear someone, (Boyd? Dave?) in the background talking like just like the old “Hey, Greg, I can’t talk right now…” that follows Rapunzel on BTCS.
Drunken Soldier - Lyrically, this tracks reminds me of What You Are. The choppy drums/bass/electric vs. horns/cymbals call and answer that first kicks in around 4 minutes is awesome while the slow Dave-only verses remind a bit of The Spoon. Timmy uses the slide guitar during the breakdown jam to perfection here unlike in the last track, Snow Outside. The breakdown itself is super jazzy, and I can’t really compare it to any of their previous work other than maybe Captain. Overall it sounds like a song that could have been written in the Before These Crowded Streets era, reworked by Steve during The Lillywhite Sessions, held on the back burner and revamped to rock out a bit more for Groo but that ultimately didn’t make the cut until now. Considering those 3 albums are all solid, that’s fine by me.