Daniel Romano Channels a Vintage Stones Vibe
Daniel Romano’s Outfit’s latest album Cobra Poems – streaming at Bandcamp – has a lot of psychedelic flavors. In Romano’s more imaginative moments, this is one of the catchiest, most entertaining psychedelic rock records of the year. Other times it’s derivative practically to the point of parody. To his credit, Romano really, really knows his Rolling Stones, down to the horn breaks and most minute percussion effects.
The opening tune, Tragic Head comes across as the Grateful Dead doing a catchy soul song with more Stonesy guitars: the tumbling drums are a tasty touch. Even in the Loom of a Caress shifts between Allah-Las clang, Stones growl and mellotron-waft 60s sunshine psych-pop.
Nocturne Child is a Honkytonk Women-style Glimmer Twins ripoff, right down to the sax solo on the outro. Romano tunes his guitar to open G again for Lonely Trumpeteer: he can copy Keith Richards like few others. Likewise, The Motions is awfully close to Wild Horses with a woman out front.
With its noir soul tinges and biting minor-key guitar riffage, Animals Above Our Town is the album’s strongest track. Tears Through a Sunrise is also ridiculously catchy…and with its jangly, bittersweet changes, is far less melancholy than you would expect.
Baby If We Stick It Out is Romano’s Can’t You Hear Me Knocking, more or less. Still Dreaming is the missing link between Loving Cup and Torn and Frayed (Stones fans will get that reference). It segues into the bizarrely loopy closing number, Camera Varda.
On one hand, much of this is as original as a Chinatown Rolex. On the other hand, if Romano gets some of the post-millennials listening to the source material – or even better, taking as much creative inspiration from it as he does – that’s validation.