Men of Leisure — "Men of Leisure" | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Men of Leisure — "Men of Leisure"

It's hard playing music influenced by the likes of the Allman Brothers, Neil Young and the more melodic, song-based version of the Grateful Dead without botching it. A fair number of southerners dig those bands, and while it's not my usual cup of tea, I can say objectively that most bands attempting this style tend to make an ass of themselves.

Fortunately for all of us, the Men of Leisure don't suck. They recently released their self-titled debut, and if you like the aforementioned bands, you should pick it up. While these comparisons give you a sense of their sound, the Men of Leisure display a "verse-chorus-verse " pop sensibility in lieu of lengthy jam sessions. The truth is that some of us wouldn't mind this type of music if the guitar players didn't have to put every lick they've ever learned in every song. The Men of Leisure successfully pay tribute to the bands they love without the filler that makes their music intolerable for pop-song junkies. The lack of annoying marathon solos isn't due to an absence of talent. I attribute it to a more tasteful approach.

I like the song "Father's Son," which is one of the band's more melodic, slower-paced tunes. The song features some great guitar parts that remind me of Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits. This song is one of those great "driving into the horizon without knowing where you're going" tunes that you listen to when you're feeling both desperate and hopeful. Other tunes, like "Lila Lu," feature a fun, blues-based boogie without being trite; Dylan's bluesy shuffles come to mind—before the "I can't remember how to write a song so I'll play the obvious blues chords" Dylan.

Beside being individually talented musicians, band members John Hawkins, Steve Deaton (of Buffalo Nickel fame), Michael Laskin, Hagen Curl (formerly of Nekisopaya) and Buddy Hughs form an airtight ensemble. Whether it's on a recording or in a smoky bar, you can always expect a good performance from these guys.

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