Artist: The Minus 5
Album: Of Monkees and Men
Label: Yep Roc Records
Release Date: 08/19/2016
It’s been a comforting thought for me in the ever downhill slide of contemporary music that on a fairly regular basis, ex-Young Fresh Fellows songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Scott McCaughey gets some line-up of R.E.M. and Wilco and various garage/pop vets together as the Minus 5 and releases some ringingly pure, un-adulterated, spark-up-your-soul, rock ‘n roll. Even a cursory listen to such underground classics as ’03’s Down With Wilco, ‘04’s trophy disc In Rock and ’13’s supremely witty and withstanding Dungeon Golds gives immediate cred to my rather long-winded opening sentence.
So here we are with Of Monkees and Men, wherein McCaughey and various members of R.E.M. and the Smithereens celebrate everything Monkees on this, the fiftieth year of Monkees-mania, and what do I think? I think the surrealistically drifting “Michael Nesmith,” with its psych/pop shifts and ten-minute twisted narrative, is off the charts. I have no idea what McCaughey and co-writer Bucks Bennett are going on about, but I can’t help listening. Nor will you. Same goes with the collective pop influences of “Davy Gets The Girl” a radio sing-a-long with Laura Gibson that you’ll undoubtedly never hear on the radio unless some ultimately frustrated Minus 5 fanatic goes commando on Clear Channel or XM or whatever passes for what we used to listen to these days.
Then there’s irresistible paean to “Boyce & Hart” the songwriting team responsible for, oh, the Monkees theme, “Last Train To Clarksville,” and “Valeri” just to name a few. Closer “Weymer Never Dies” has nothing to do with the Monkees, but is still a good listen, but the other five tunes in between don’t really rattle the rafters, y’know? And that’s not something I say lightly when discussing the Minus 5. So I’m gonna get outta here and give this one a so-so 60.
– Mike Jurkovic