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Different strokes

Bobby Bare Jr.'s The Longest Meow is so out there, it works


My couch is so bright, I've gotta wear shades.
  • My couch is so bright, I've gotta wear shades.

Getting Bobby Bare Jr. to discuss his latest album, The Longest Meow, takes almost no prodding. He gushes about it almost before you have the chance to ask.

"It was the most fun I've ever had in the recording studio," he says proudly.

You can hear the excitement lurking behind his Southern twang and drawl. Well, that is, when you can hear him at all. Every other word is muddled by background noise: a guitar strum, a drum roll and OK, hold on, was that a piano?

"Sorry," he says, a little distracted. "I'm at a Guitar Center."

Well, that's fitting. Listening to Meow, it's not tough to envision this guy spending his days off at his local Nashville music store, playing around with the latest available gadgets.

The son of country music icon Bobby Bare, Bare Jr. first entered the music scene in 2002, with a record that was, in most regards, forgettable. But Bare kept trying plenty. Meow is actually his fourth effort since his debut. (That's five albums in five years.) And it seems that this time, he's got it right.

More than anything, the most striking aspect of Meow is its transparency. On it, you hear an artist in his element, his every emotion the most recurring being joy dripping over each lyric, beat and riff. It's the sound of a man who genuinely loves music and is dabbling in all aspects of the sonic elements.

Meow starts off conservatively enough with "The Heart Bionic," an easily categorized rock record but that's where the normalcy ends. On the ensuing tracks, Bare and his cast of friends take a more eclectic route.

"Back to Blue" uses horns to elicit a Southwestern country feel. "Sticky Chemical" brings to mind a '50s doo-wop band fronted by a Johnny Cash-meets-Tom Petty character. And the opening screams of "Uh Wuh Oh" well, they're just plain fun. While Bare and his band, the Young Criminals' Starvation League, revert to more standard fare from time to time, Bare keeps things dynamic, changing his voice and creating new characters to fit each route.

It's an awe-inspiring achievement, even before Bare describes the coincidental details of his single day in the studio. The entire 11-track album (leaving out the 25-second intro) was recorded on March 27 by 11 musicians, and was completed in just 11 hours. The recurring 11s were neither planned nor anticipated but at the end of the day, when Bare noticed the repetition of the number, it was tough not to be floored.

So far, critics and audiences alike prior to headlining this current tour, Bare and his band toured with Drive-By Truckers have had a similar response. Across the board, there's been nothing but praise for the songs of the now 2-week-old album.

"I've never played new music for a crowd and seen this kind of a response," Bare says. "These live shows are the most fun I've ever had, period."

Meow's sounds are so varied, it'd be difficult to listen and not find at least one song to pique your interest.

And now that he's had a taste of success, Bare seems content to wallow in it sort of.

"Not yet," he says, when asked if heading back into the studio is on his radar. "But I am itching to start writing songs again."

Bobby Bare Jr., with Ghostfinger, Panda and Angel, and Hollyfields

hi-dive, 7 S. Broadway, Denver

Tuesday, Oct. 17, 9 p.m.

Tickets: $7 at the door.

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