Dry Cleaning By (2005, self-released)
The sometimes mysterious Hussalonia (or Jesse Mank
to his mother) reappears with his 5th proper album Beautiful Dry
Cleaning By and once again, we find him manning most of the controls
on an adventurous ride through pop geekdom. This time around he
has 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
Jesse turning up the vox a bit and letting his six-string loose
in squalls of noise. This may actually find itself appealing to
fans of the more traditional indie sound.
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, mate.