The Bottle & Fresh Horses

Artist: The Refreshments
Listenability Scale: 92%
Released by: Mercury Records
A Review by:
The Dude on the Right

The Refreshments are back and I’m happy again. It’s been nearly a year since I got to listen to their debut album, “Fizzy, Fuzzy, Big & Buzzy,” and now they are spinning in my CD player with their second CD from Mercury, “The Bottle & Fresh Horses.” They may be a year older, may be a year wiser, but if a year has done anything it has made them even more of a relief to hear.

See, lately I’ve been frustrated with the music scene and a lot of the, well, for no better way to put it, crap, that I’ve been forced to listen to, mostly because I don’t think the industry knows where it wants to go. You’ve got industry types and critics spouting the new age of electronica, you’ve got older bands trying somewhat radical changes in their style by bringing in the new and hip producers, and you’ve got everyone saying that the country scene is dead. Then you’ve got The Refreshments coming out with “The Bottle & Fresh Horses,” and as much as I love the CD, will it get the radio play it deserves? I doubt it, but then this band has not been about radio as much as it’s been about one friend telling two friends, and them telling two friends, and so on, and so on.

I like “The Bottleā€¦” for the same reason I liked “Fizzy..,” it’s crisp, clean, guitar-driven rock and roll with a story to tell. The stories are about being in love, being out of love, death, drinking too much, and being on the run. The melodies are catchy, the lyrics range between deep and funny, and it’s good to hear a band growing older, but not too old.

Intermixed on “The Bottle..” you find songs with maybe not the most profound lyrics, but they sure say a lot. The rockin’ “Good Days” gives you “it’s been a good year for bad days, or a bad year for good days,” “Buy American” rings out with “we’ll eat MSG and talk about Chinese food,” the bouncy “Birds Sing” comes along with “there’s a picture that I’m painting and you know it won’t be pretty, it’s a song I give someone else to sing, it’s a melody I stole from a bathroom wall, and it’s the words I hear the birds sing,” and the fun “Broken Record” contains my favorite line “But when you got back you still wouldn’t show me your brand new silicone boobs.” And then the melancholy “Una Soda,” which I can relate to on many levels, will teach you some of the most important phrases you will need if heading to The Refreshments most sung about country, Mexico.

Most of the songs are penned by Roger Clyne, handling the vocals and rhythm guitar as well, with Brian Blush (lead guitar) taking care of “Good Year” and Buddy Edwards (bass guitar) writing the likes of “Birds Song.” In the background but still pounding away is P.H. Naffah on the drums.

I love the fact that as deep as some of the songs are, the prevailing attitude of the CD is fun, and in a time when you’ve got lots of songs with no lyrics and songs still preaching how bad things are, The Refreshments are still able to take a message that might be angry or sad, but it won’t have you with the “me against the world” attitude, maybe more of a “you should bring along the girl so she can ‘lay high’ while you ‘lay low.'”

A friend of me asked who I would liken The Refreshments sound to. I was perplexed, mostly because it’s not specific. In their songs I can hear Tom Petty, The Violent Femmes, Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Herb Alpert, and Hank Williams Sr. If that’s not a mix I don’t know what is. So I told my friend, “I guess there isn’t anyone I can really say they sound like. Maybe that’s why I like them so much.”

So, back to “The Bottle & Fresh Horses.” It’s a great second outing, and I’ve got a new CD that will be stuck in my CD player for months. If you liked “Fizzy, Fuzzy, Big & Buzzy” I think you’ll like “The Bottle..” even more. After all, you’ve grown up a year too. Of the 13 tracks, the only one I tend to skip over is “Buy American.” It’s not bad, but does nothing for me. To each his own I guess. As far as the rest of the CD, I find myself singing my heart out. So, 12 out of 13 and that gives “The Bottle & Fresh Horses” a whopping 92% on the Entertainment Ave! listenability scale.

A great CD from a band that is as much fun seeing live as listening to through your speakers.

That’s it for this one, I’m The Dude on the Right!! L8R!!