From the artwork to its threadbare closing track, “Meant 2 Be” is a wonderfully complete, meaty listen. It is also absolutely brimming with killer hooks and guitar riffs. Amid the raft of diverse rock and blues driven material here, are spirited acoustic dominated alt-folk standouts like, ‘3rd Coast’, ‘You Gotta Move On’, ‘Seasons’ and ‘Scatter Brain’, all of which go a long way towards illustrating what an accomplished songwriter Dave Hamilton can be. Replete with melodies and choruses to die for, they all hang together on a backdrop of both life’s joyful and troubled trivialities, and its circumstantiality, which permeates the album. Dave is of course part of the bigger picture, which is his project, Happy Curmudgeons – a group of studio musicians organized by himself. Hamilton wrote or co-wrote all 11 tracks on this, their first release.
The album itself remains a fascinating listen. In short, these songs are everything that most bands this eclectic and wide-ranging are aiming for – and missing. As a young kid, The Beatles introduced me to the beauty and endless creative possibilities of popular music, and that ‘genre’ was only dirty five letter word.
The Happy Curmudgeons only enforce my initial vision, as they dive into a number of styles and moods with equal dexterity and nonchalance. Done by any other kind of band, “Meant 2 Be” would sound like disjointed, incoherent and aimless collection of songs.
Instead Dave Hamilton and his crew of players and singers turn out a colorful patchwork of retro-tinged sounds that enchant and ignite the soul. From the singalong happiness of “Bar Hoppin’” to the blues-rock groove of “Soulsville”, and then onto sweetly harmonized folk fairyland of the title track “Meant 2 Be” and “3rd Coast”, before swooping into the overdriven, psychedelic guitar-crunch of “Carnal Boogie”.
The Happy Curmudgeons then roll out the classic rock harmonies and riding on the highway rhythms on “Burn Sugar Burn”, before once more slipping into the softer and melodic “Idle Time”.
“You Gotta Move On” proves that the Happy Curmudgeons still have some songwriting gas left in the tank, this far down the album, while “Butterfly” certifies that their overdriven guitar rock motifs haven’t floundered after 9 tracks. But at the end of the day great music is all about melody and emotion, and on “Seasons” and “Scatter Brain”, Happy Curmudgeons and Dave Hamilton offer an abundance of both.
To be fair though, every song on this album as important and irreplaceable as the last one, and with time, you will sing to each and every one of them with all the joy of your heart. Don’t let the fact that they’re a new band on their first album, fool you, this sounds nothing like the current music. And that statement should say a whole lot!
The album “Meant 2 Be” was produced by Nate Harasim and Mark Byerly. The Happy Curmudgeons are: Dave Hamilton (Vocals, Acoustic & Electric Guitars) Jeff Warner (Vocals, Acoustic & Electric Guitars and Mandolin) Amy Dixon-Lavery (Vocals) Jay “Tumbleweed” Burrs (Harmonica).
Also appearing on Meant 2 Be: Takashi Iio (Bass), Keith Leonard (Bass), Shawn Ramsey (Bass), Dylan Hornsby (Bass), Rick Beamon (Drums) Nate Harasim (Keyboards and Piano – courtesy of Yamaha), Jeff Taboloff (Sax) and Marlow Ray Morgan (Vocals on Burn Sugar Burn).