Beautiful Dry Cleaning By (2005, self-released)

The sometimes mysterious Hussalonia reappears with their 5th proper album Beautiful Dry Cleaning By and once again, we find them manning most of the controls on an adventurous ride through pop geekdom. This time around they’ve enlisted a friend to lay some drums down on the first half of the album and it works well, adding a bit more beef to the patty. This does not, however, mean the endearing charm of previous records is lost in the mix.

‘Last Night I Dreamt I Had No Dreams’ and ‘There Goes The Rest Of My Life’ ooze with personality, fuzzy pop guitar and raw drumming. And what would a Hussalonia release be without at least a small offering of Beach Boys harmonies and ooh-aah’s? ‘Escape Artist’ dishes out plenty of that amidst a doo-wop ballad , reminding me of Elvis Costello at his most soulful. Though to be honest there’s a lot about this album that reminds me of the real Elvis, most notably in the vocal delivery and lyrical material. I had much in common with the sentiment expressed in the spare acoustic sing-a-along, ‘The Big Time’. Lyrics like “I don’t want to be alone, so I’m staying close to home, rotting on the vine, I work on the assembly line” and “watching the clock while listening to classic rock” remind me of the small blue-collar coal-mining town I grew up in and the fierce resistance its citizens have against leaving due to fear of the unknown. Way to pull on my heartstrings. The opener ‘God Save The Queen City’ is probably the closest Hussalonia come to ‘rocking out’ on this one, though its more of a dirge with the band turning up the vox a bit and letting their six-string loose in squalls of noise. This may actually find itself appealing to fans of the more traditional indie sound.

New to Hussalonia you say? Start with this album or the lo-fi, bit more quirky Charles Hardin Hussalonia (my personal fave) then continue deeper into the catalog. The band’s last release ‘Percy Thrills Hussalonia’ is now being distributed by Not Lame Records. Say it ain’t so, Husssalonia? You’ve sold your soul to the power-pop crowd?! And here I thought you were all mine to treasure and to hold til death do us part. Though I guess it may be time for you to branch out beyond my CD shelves. Good luck and godspeed, mates.

-Beat 5/26/05

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