Not to toot my horn, but I’ve heard, seen and even known my share of prolific songwriters, and this J. Hubner fella certainly qualifies as such. It seems as if the ink had barely dried on whatzup’s review of goodbyewave’s last release, the Memorial Day EP (itself released just a few months after another, Bright Lights, Strange Nights) and here we have a new full-length just in time for the holidays. It’s easy to be distracted by goodbyewave’s prodigious output of late and marvel at how Hubner and company manage to come up with so much, so often. But what might be missed — and that would be a shame — is the surprisingly consistent quality among the discs. Another interesting aspect to hearing these records in such rapid-fire fashion is how you can detect subtle yet definite growth with each successive album. The latest, entitled Interiors, trades Memorial Day’s love of fuzzbox guitar distortion for a more “classic rock” vibe. Plus, Hubner’s latest instrumental love, an old Wurlitzer keyboard, figures heavily on this release.
While sadly not a rock opera adaptation of the Woody Allen Interiors film, Hubner does self-dissecting alienation (a Wood-man staple) as well as anybody in the region. His combination of sometimes lacerating lyrics, inventive progressions and bittersweet vocal delivery (dig the celestial harmonies throughout, starting with the Byrds-y “Face to Face,” complete with jangling guitars and a retro vibe) makes for an always intriguing listen, even when his ideas don’t always reach their sonic potential. After an instrumental opening salvo, thick with the smoke of distorted guitars and riding confidently atop steady percussion, Interiors springs open with “Change of Scenery,” full of the slinky angularity and deadpan delivery of a Midnite Vultures-era Beck. Melody being part and parcel of Hubner’s DNA, however, it’s only a matter of time before piano and vocal harmonies break in on chorus, letting some sunshine in. “115 Grant Street” rolls in like a with a touch of Joe Walsh’s James Gang vibe in the vocal delivery. It’s a great combination of earthy guitar crunch, classic rock feel and almost McCartneyesque sense of nostalgic place.
This is definitely a guitar-and-drums rock album, but Hubner manages to create nuance and atmosphere by somehow containing it. “Innanoutalove,” for instance, is filled with the The’s airless, claustrophobic tension, and the feeling is only accentuated by something approaching Matthew Sweet’s gritty gift for pop confectionism. But if there’s a relative fallback position for goodbyewave that permeates the entire catalog (Yes, J., you have a catalog now. You heard it here).It shows up in the sometimes chugging, sometimes floating “Carpe Diem,” which radiates Pink Floyd’s dark psychedelia and muted pop sense. Hubner even takes the time to explain what this Latin phrase means, for all you monolingual slackers out there. Interiors is a great addition to what amounts to this year’s goodbyewave box set-full of releases. Go to myspace.com/goodbyewave for more information (and don’t be surprised if the next album’s already finished by now). (D.M. Jones)ALIGN=Center>Copyright 2008 Ad Media Inc.