Log – Log Almighty

Log Almighty

Not only do the members of Log look like your parents, they sound like them. This is assuming your parents were playing in indie-pop bands back in the wild and wooly 80s before everything became codified and polished to a radio-friendly sheen. Head Log dude Paul Nini probably made the most noise working in a Columbus, Ohio band called Great Plains with future Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartment vocalist Ron House, but safe to say it wasn’t the massive commercial success that kept driving him. No, these geezers are that rarest of rarities: grown-ups with real jobs and real responsibilities who nevertheless save time for the simple pleasures of straightforward indie-pop.

Log still keeps it old school, sounding like that crossroads between Replacements grime and REM rootsiness. The songs are simple and warm, but the guitars are gritty (and half-heartedly tuned) and the playing is loose. Though the band betrays a fondness for Australian troubadours the Go-Betweens (and a strong familiarity to the wonderful New Zealand band the Bats), the band sounds unmistakably American. These musicians even channel a little Grand Funk on the cowbell driven stomp of “On the Way Back Home.” In fact, an earlier Great Plains EP was named Mark, Don & Mel, a clear reference to the three Funkers – what gives? Rest assured, Log may be familiar with the shirt-ripping grandeur of classic rock, but these guys are having none of it themselves.

These tunes are as straight-up as can be. Down-to-earth bookworms playing crusty little pop smears like “Green My Eyes” and “The End of Print” while their bottles of Rolling Rock go warm atop the amplifier. The best tunes here (“Stranded in the Past,” “That’s All”) sound like rollicking singles from some struggling indie label circa 1985 with Farfisa fuzz and female harmonies for color. Where they get into trouble is when Nini’s somewhat weak voice is left too much to itself. With a lot of no-frills playing and a low-key melodic sensibility, his lack of a commanding presence hurts. While a band like the Bats could also be said to struggle with this problem, they have they benefit of a popping rhythm section and sparkling material. I can’t say Log’s tunes really sparkle, and the bass and drums certainly don’t pop. A couple of the songs (“This Time No One Gets Hurt,” “All the Sheep Are Slain”) are just too drab and draggy, creaky vocal or not. A solution is found on the muted “Gloom Away!” where the harmonies are sung almost in a whisper over simple strumming and a persistent, droning violin (or what sounds like one). It stresses the bands strength of easy, comfortable writing and an overall likeability.

I’ve always thought the idea of a person’s love of pop music being diminished by the passage of time to be horribly cruel. That the responsibilities of adulthood must inevitably eclipse the simple joy of finding and creating new melodies is a detestable concept and should be resisted. Log fights the good fight and generally come out on top, and if the victory isn’t a stunning one, it is heartening all the same.