And here I thought cassettes were a dead medium, but that’s what vocalist/guitarist/ukulele player Keith Owen handed to me as the review copy of Bury Me at Boneville. Owen, along with Geena Spigarelli on bass and Gabe Pastura on drums, operate under the moniker of Indiana Jones & the Rio Piedras. Odds are that some of you may have seen them perform around town by now, or remember them from last year’s Battle of the Bands X. Their dedication comes through in both the live and studio performances, and it certainly helps their cause that they write musically clean poppy songs that have a way of slapping a smile on the listener’s face. Their only studio effort so far, Bury Me at Boneville is a suitable introduction to their style of Americana-psychedelic jangle pop music that, given enough exposure, could join the ranks of Mac DeMarco in keeping that genre alive. However, Indiana Jones & the Rio Piedras still have some growing to accomplish if they really wish to distinguish themselves from similar acts in Northeast Indiana.
Besides the appropriately hippy-trippy artwork, the first thing I noticed was how short some of these songs are. Sure, most of the songs here range an agreeable two to four minutes, but the shortest songs like “Lifting Lauper” and “Eastern European Pipe Dream” make me wonder if they were rough drafts that wound up on the final product. One could make an argument for how the bite-sized songs act as padding (mind you, not necessarily filler) for an album that has a blatant “get-in-get-out” nature.
Taken as a whole, Bury Me at Boneville acts like a polite interruption into your daily music playlist, but is definitely worth the 27 minutes you’ll spend listening. Some of the most enjoyable tracks like “Symphony of Sweet” satirize cocaine use and machismo behavior: “Yeah we do cocaine! / And we sing about it / It’s because we’re badasses / But I really doubt it.” It’s also easy to detect certain influences from renowned indie bands of yore like the Pavement-like “Brad Mynx” and “Nuevo Testamento.” According to the liner notes, the chorus to “Peach Wind” borrows elements from Johnny Cash, further telling listeners what artists the group derives inspiration. One more thing I should mention is how I get the feeling that, as climactic as “Hot City” feels, it should be reserved as the last track rather than “Plant Feed.”
In this instance, it’s actually a good thing that the album leaves the listener wanting more. Still, the work can’t really help but come across as a teaser for something more that might occur in the future. It’s also possible for some listeners to view the album as an elaborate advertisement for their live shows which, if I’m honest, is probably the best way to enjoy Mr. Jones & the Rio Piedras.
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July 21 • Sweetwater Performace Pavilion