Edie Brickell never seemed to like her fifteen minutes of pop stardom very much, so perhaps it’s fitting that the return of the original New Bohemians should end up such a well-kept secret. The same lineup that helped revitalize Deep Ellum in 1985—and made “What I Am” one of secretary-rock’s first anthems—has ever so quietly regrouped and gone the indie route to offer up The Live Mantuak Sessions, a collection of eight new tunes written and recorded in a five-week span last summer. Brickell has admitted they are simply “jams we managed to lasso enough to call songs,” but therein lies the beauty: Without commercial expectations or major-label pressure, these tracks are easily the New Bohemians’ most intuitive recordings yet. Brickell’s voice is as brooding as it is soothing, and the band seems to be taking fewer steps to find a rock-steady funk pocket. Better yet, they’ve avoided the temptation to trip back to their neo-Dead roots (only the deserving “Spanish Style Guitar” clocks in at over five minutes). All told, it’s quite a blueprint for a comeback and more proof that sometimes a band’s best work comes when nobody’s looking.
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