Wild honey

 The Leftovers continue to be On the Move
By SAM PFEIFLE  |  August 1, 2007

As half the state appeared to turn out last weekend for the return of Rustic Overtones, a band once torn asunder by the grind of the music business, three-piece pop-punkers the Leftovers were part of a skate fest in Deering Oaks and a gig at the Big Easy that doubled as local release parties for On the Move, the band’s third full-length effort, though first with a proper label (Pittsburgh’s Rally Records) and thus dubbed a “debut” by PR types. Just in case you got caught up in the Rustic hoopla and missed the Leftovers, you should be pleased that another opportunity presents itself August 13, when they play their last summer gig in Portland at Geno’s.

From the outset of their 2005 local debut, Stop, Drop, Rock & Roll, the band have shown a knack for unassuming, just-plain-fun pop-punk that’s ideal for hot nights and cold beers. Forget that the band couldn’t legally drink beer when they got started — that’s half their charm. Through 13 tracks on their new disc, bassist/lead vocalist Kurt Adams does his best Joe Jackson (sorry, he’s top of mind after that Scott Link cover I reviewed a couple weeks back) while singing his best gal’s virtues or lamenting her loss, with plenty of “ooo-ah” backing vocals from guitarist Andrew Rice and a crashing time-keeping from Adam Woronoff. It’s enough to make you think the band have been hanging out on the beach, listening to Wild Honey, and dreaming about making records full of songs that never run past three minutes and always have a catchy chorus with plenty of harmony.

Like the Beach Boys before them, the Leftovers manage to drop a fine take on the human condition without getting particularly deep. In “Camel,” I think they manage to coin a phrase nearly every man has thought without necessarily uttering: “You probably don’t have a clue just what your ass can do to me, baby.” The Beach Boys would have maybe commented on “How She Boogalooed It” and then asked her to “sock it to me.”

On the Move | Released by the Leftovers | at Geno’s, in Portland | with the Randies + Varsity Drag | Aug 13 | $8 | www.myspace.com/theleftovers
I think both bands could agree, however, on wanting a girl to “dance with me, dance with me/Take my hand and take a walk with me.”

It’s a formula the Leftovers have used to great success thus far, and it is only made more effective by smart production from Ben Weasel (Screeching Weasel) out at Smart Studios in Madison, Wisconsin. A melodic keyboard descends through that “Dance with Me,” for instance, and the hand-claps in “See You Tonight” come late enough in the album to bring a smile to your face because you know they just couldn’t resist. Every song is crisp and hard-driving, but there are nuances of surf, boogie, and southern rock to keep everything from completely running together (as can happen when 13 songs don’t quite last half an hour).

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