Review: The Famous – Come Home to Me (Leading Brand, 2010)
San Francisco’s The Famous, led by guitarist/vocalists Laurence Scott and Victor Barclay, debuted five years ago with the post-punk rock of Light, Sweet Crude. They still profess deep affection for the Pixies, but their new release isn’t nearly as raw as the debut, and the country twang explored on the earlier “Deconstruction Worker” is the new record’s raison d’être. Scott’s vocals retain their edgy emotion, and the music still has its rock power, but the band plays with more dynamics, and the tempos mull over the lyrics’ angst rather than spitting them out. If country music’s original outlaws had made their break with Nashville in the post-punk era, it might have sounded a lot like this. Scott’s bitter words and needy tone straddle the line between anger and remorse on the perfectly unconvincing “Without You,” and though “Perspicacious” sounds like the post-punk power-pop of Sugar, Scott retains the twang in his voice. The band shows their instrumental chops on the lengthy spaghetti-western intro to “Happy,” and the title track mixes the growl of Tom Waits and dark theatrics of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins with a mix of trad-jazz trombone, hard-twanging guitar and pedal steel. The closing instrumental “Under the Stars” is wistful, with countrypolitan piano, lazy steel and a terrific Endless Summer guitar that draws the day’s surfing (or perhaps trail ride) to a close. The melding of eras and influences is heard throughout the album, with heavy lead guitars winding into hard-charging Gun Club-styled verses, and spare solos that build into musical walls. This is a terrific evolution from the band’s debut, focusing the muscle and energy of their post-punk rock into compelling, emotional twang.