Dial T for This

As has proved popular in rock and roll, if you’re going to pretend you don’t really care about your music, the stage is the place to act this out. Bands like the Replacements carried this to extremes; their drunken train wrecks in the eighties convinced a lot of people they really didn’t care, though their classic recordings showed otherwise. GRAND CHAMPEEN, a band that takes inspiration from the ’Mats, among others, seems to have gotten this backward. Since it got rolling in Austin in 2000, it’s been known for
memorable material and powerhouse performances—and for recordings that sound tossed off. But DIAL T FOR THIS (In Music We Trust), its fourth album and the first in four years, tells a different story. In timeless rock band tradition, Channing Lewis and longtime friend Alex Livingstone swap songs of winning power pop (“Nice of You to Join Us,” “Wounded Eye,” “Cities on the Plain”). With backing vocals and smart, melodic arrangements “performed by someone in the band on an actual instrument, not a computer” (as the album credits boast), Grand Champeen tightens things up without sacrificing a bit of its edge.

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