March 2, 2006

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The Minus 5, The Minus 5 (The Gun Album)
Yep Rock Records, 2006

The self-titled The Minus 5 album also known as “The Gun Album” released  last month weaves through mortality, graveyards, funerals and there’s an obsession with guns throughout, yet at the same time it espouses a pop-Beatles sounding influence and a lot of nonsensical lyrics. The band is a side project of singer-songwriter Scott McCaughey, who is no newcomer to the rock scene.

McCaughey plays with R.E.M. as well as Tuatara. The Minus 5 is about 13 years old and it’s where he puts all the songs Young Fresh Fellows, the Seattle-based band he’s played with since 1983, didn’t have time or inclination to play.

If you’re in the mood for some lighthearted rock and roll that doesn’t take itself too seriously but still offers some talent, this is a good disc to put on. It should be; The Minus 5 collaborators usually aren’t amateur musicians. “My Life as a Creep” and “Rifle Called Goodbye” are songs reminiscent of Beatles pop pretty much from their first notes. The line “I just hope one do you’ll understand I’m not supremely evil” gives you an idea of where they’re going lyrically, which is probably nowhere all that sane.

Besides Paul McCartney, you can at times hear a little Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros with the country twang steel guitar sound. It’s more pop-rock than the Minus 5’s 2004 collaboration with Wilco on the album Down With Wilco. “Leftover Life to Kill” offers a little noise rock at the end and “Cemetery Row” sounds like a sad far-off memory. Then there’s “Cigarettes Coffee and Booze” with simple rhythmic guitars, and again a twa,ngy steel guitar sound, with the refrain “All you really need is cigarettes, coffee and booze.” Well, hasn’t everyone felt that way at one point?

B-

—Heidi Masek