Little Man – Core of Discovery

Little Man
Core of Discovery

Little Man seem to be stuck in the 1970s in a way that most 1970s artists who are still recording today seem to be. But Little Man is a new band, so their excuse probably isn’t quite as good. I’m guessing that the members of Chicago’s Little Man grew up on equal parts Bob Dylan, The Who, The Beatles, and perhaps a little Van Morrison for good measure. Combine all that with a more modern, poppy style, and you get a sense of Little Man’s first full-length album.
To me, Little Man just screams bar band, perhaps because this style of straight-ahead, retro-influenced rock-n-roll seems to be what so many bar bands play when I end up at a smoky, dingy place at 1 in the morning. And from the amount that the band mentions their live show, I wouldn’t be surprised if they embraced that bar-band label. Surely, this would be a fun band to see live, but on album, their music comes across as 70s-influenced rock with a southern quality that gets a bit grating. While some of these songs are quite good, it’s hard to overcome the slightly twangy guitars and the vocals that try to be somewhere between Tom Waits and Jacob Dylan.
“Pleased To Meet You” has a very rocking beat that somehow manages to stay poppy through bouncy rhythms and even some nice backing synthesizers and horns. After this one song, I’m excited by this release, but it goes somewhat downhill from there. “Hit Me” has the twangy guitars in full force and an almost Lynyrd Skynyrd style of homey rock-n-roll. “Horizon” is fairly nice, with more unique vocals and a pop-rock feel to it that has a nice flow and good backing vocals, and for some reason I’m reminded of a kinder, gentler Soundgarden. “Memo Book” is a good example of the band getting all country, sounding like a cross between a poppier Wallflowers and Wilco. Now “Sitting Tree” has a definite bar-band feel to it, but with the slightly soulful guitar licks and vocals, this song is pretty damn cool. “Keeps On Giving” gets more ballad-like and slower, still with a slightly twangy bounce to it. “How Is Your Life” has something of an Urge Overkill sound to it, and the closer, “Let It Down” has a kind of 70s bluesy rock feel to it that isn’t bad but really doesn’t stand out.
So, I don’t know, I’m of two minds about this release. On one hand, these musicians are very talented, and their ability to take their favorite music from the 70s and bring it into a more modern rock sound with often poppy beats is pretty impressive. On the other hand, their slightly country twang and unabashed love for plain and simple rock-n-roll doesn’t fit with what I’m interested in listening to at all right now. But if that’s your thing, go for it, cuz these guys are probably doing it better than most.