American Music Club

By - Oct 1st, 2004 02:52 pm
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By Erin Wolf

Merge Records

It’s official: American Music Club frontman Mark Eitzel now reclaims the Bleeding-Heart title for writing cutting and honest lyrics. Even under the long shadow of his Rolling Stone-bestowed designation of “Best Songwriter,” he helps to create an AMC album (the first since the band’s breakup in 1995) filled with heartfelt disappointment, frustration, pathos and occasionally insightful contentment.

Love Songs for Patriots may seem like a Springsteen-esque title, but it’s a far cry from that. As Eitzel comments on Ladies and Gentlemen, “This is what George Bush should have said after 9/11.” More tongue-in-cheek than Jersey Shore, Eitzel reflects upon his own vision of the United States.

Politics aside, he also remains America’s response to Morrissey, musing on love (and lack thereof) and life hardships, incorporating touches of rock, blues, jazz, pop and country into an astounding sonic masterpiece. Orchestrated by the original band members with complete fervor, American Music Club welcomes pianist and trumpeter Marc Capelle for an added twist.

Harsher than previous recordings like Mercury and Everclear, Love Songs for Patriots focuses on Eitzel’s unique voice, more weathered than before—timeworn, life-worn, but completely affecting. Fuzzy distortion lends an air of confusion to complement purposefully plodding vocals on songs like “Job to Do,” while “Love Can Set You Free” captures a clean, meandering, acoustic guitar-enforced melody with an almost sweet hopefulness.

Although Eitzel sounds pessimistic as he sings “…only love can set you free,” he also sounds as if he’s truly learned this lesson, not as if he’s simply waxing poetic. “I’ve been so lucky,” he concludes. And we’re lucky to welcome back American Music Club.

On November 12 and 13, American Music Club plays Schuba’s in Chicago, 3159 N. Southport.

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