Oldseed – When You Laugh the World Laughs With You, When You Cry You Cry Alone

Often, when I am walking down Queen Street, I see these skinny, old guys hanging out by the dwindling number of taverns and greasy spoons on the western strip. They all seem to sport pompadours and jeans with cuffs rolled so many times it almost looks like they have no shins. Often they’re wearing a plaid jacket or an old leather coat from a sports team they played on about forty or fifty years ago and they’ve usually got a cigarette dangling from somewhere. I hardly need to mention they’re all cool as fuck. Lately, a lot of younger dudes have tried copping their style, pretending to live some sort of rough-hewn, dissipated lifestyle but never really knowing what the inside of a rooming house or a drunk tank looks like. So while I am willing to take Oldseed’s (aka Craig Bjerring) publicity at face value and accept him as “an artist you suspect has been living pretty full on, but has managed to keep his innocence intact”, I am guessing he’s not quite the hard man he purports to be. Also grating is the fact that Bjerring’s influences stand out far too prominently, particularly Neil Young. You can frequently hear Young’s halting, fragile phrasing bleed though Bjerrings’s vocals, particularly on Woebegone and Infinitely. The rest of the time, Steve Earle’s good old boy rasp looms large, threatening to bust out into full-on tribute mode. Maybe some of those guys down on Queen Street should give their two cents. (Karyn Bonham)

CD, Sisiphus Records, www.killbeatmusic.com, www.scratchrecords.com

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