Album Reviews: Grant Langston; Greg Koons
Here are a couple of short reviews of recent roots records.
Grant Langston–Stand Up Man–MSG–June 2009
It would be easy to dismiss Grant Langston as a trad-country parodist if he didn’t write such unfailingly infectious tunes and weren’t such a skilled singer (though his nasal vocals might wake up the kids). His tongue is about to bust through his cheek on much of Stand Up Guy, his fourth album, with a half-joking smirk somewhere in Robbie Fulks territory, but there’s enough round choruses and Telecaster snap on the record to get under your skin or to at least keep poker night humming along. “Burt Reynolds Movie Brawl” provides a treat for Stroker Ace enthusiasts, but “Damn Good Day,” with its pick-tastic guitar fire is the hot-stepping keeper. The dedication to simple structures and wry lyrics might ultimately limit Stand Up Man‘s shelf life, but it’ll certainly be fun while it lasts.
Greg Koons and the Misbegotten–Welcome to the Nowhere Motel–Kealon–June 2009
Los Angeles twangsmith Greg Koons writes from the perspective of a poor kid from off of Route 83 in Pennsylvania, though now he’s all grown up and carrying the hard-hurting freight of life and love, which live in a solid set of songs on his full-length debut. Welcome to the Nowhere Motel is full of jangle-and-strum roots-pop: “There but by the Grace of God Go I”, with its Buddy Holly vocal delivery, is the catchy handclapper; “Janey’s Got a New Boyfriend” chugs with an early-‘80s hit-FM melody; and “A Picture of My Pa Before He Died in Vietnam” (dude’s got a knack for titles) stomps with an ironic exuberance. Koons is most memorable, though, when he slows it down on tender, lovesick ballads with Springsteenian detail, either bumming out over the failed promise of Los Angeles or singing the prettiest song you’ll ever hear about falling in love with a beaten-up hooker in a truck-stop bathroom.
These reviews were originally published at PopMatters.