Album Review

Aaron George

You're better off listening to something like Lynyrd Skynyrd.

“There's a sound, that I know.” Oh how telling these words are for the new Back Yard Tire Fire album Good To Be. I should have known, any band with that cool of a name was bound to disappoint me on some level, its just too much to live up to...such an awesome name for a band.

Anyway, I'm going to be blunt, and I'm going to get down to brass tacks, since that is the general feel of Good To Be. One of the sounds that I know, that all of us Americans most likely know by heart and while we might not be tired of it on all fronts, having yet another pseudo “soulful” album founded on simple music and cliché Americana just seems kinda silly at this point. Yes, BYTF, yes we know that “its rock and roll” and we know about “livin' in a one room shanty by the side of the road”, what I am having trouble contemplating is why this sort of thing is still stroked raw even though it has been done to death and perfection.

Maybe I am being a bitter music prick. Maybe I am out of touch with the midwestern/southern simplicity expressed here and maybe all this reviewing has turned me into an elitist who can no longer appreciate raw and basic rock and roll that hearkens back to the southern rock of the 70s. Even if that is the case though, that doesn’t change the fact that most people have likely heard the brunt of these songs before, played by other bands who did it first and did it in a way that was far more convincing because they did what all good musicians do and what BYTF sadly does not do on this album: take a style or theme and make it their own. This album is similar to Fuzzy Wuzzy Big and Buzzy by The Refreshments, only without the Mexico references and believable integrity.

Backyard Tire Fire is most likely a great live show. You can tell by listening to the disc, and honestly with this sort of music if you add a dingy bar, good people, and plenty of booze it’s difficult to not have fun watching an act like this. Sadly though, this charm and energy just does not carry over to Good To Be. The songs are boring, the ideas feel stagnant, and without there being anything to distinguish this album from any other “blue collar” focused rock album, you are left wondering what the point is. So, if they come to town and it isn't too expensive, go check them out. It will probably be a good show. As far as home-listening though, you are better off just listening to something like Lynyrd Skynyrd. They did it first, they did it best, but most importantly they did it their own way, which is something Backyard Tire Fire does not seem to have mastered yet.