Josh Joplin Band
I am sure that the Josh Joplin Band would just cringe when hearing for the zillionth time that upon listening their CD, the letters R.E.M. are mentioned in the same breath. Not as an insult to the Georgia natives, but their CD, Useful Music , does draw similarities with college-radio days R.E.M. balladry. With plaintive and at times nervous vocals almost identical to Michael Stipe and harmonies that one could swear included cameos by Mike Mills, Josh Joplin Band does a better job of adding meaningful piano chord baselines with acoustic guitar on songs like “Phil Ochs” and “Far Away.” Under SMG, founded by the now famous singer (or rather speaker) of the hit single “Lullaby,” Shawn Mullins, Josh Joplin Band could possibly find themselves on a similar path to stardom as R.E.M.
Probably the main difference between the two bands is that the legendary performers have the money to add the vocal effects and loops that keep them on each generation’s cutting edge. However, both bands take pride in writing songs that are deeply personal – not giving a damn who they piss off or confuse in the process. It works better with Josh Joplin, because one can figure out that the lyrics are written from an experience point of view — whereas the former becomes so esoteric in its poetry that it never reaches a point. I think Josh Joplin’s greatest strength is in its variety of style, incorporating rap, folk and funk — yet still keeping the acoustic/piano background so as not to change lifeforms too drastically. Overall, a great CD and a promising band.
SMG Records, 2103 N. Decatur Rd., Suite 124, Decatur, GA 30033