The Los Angeles-born, New York-based band Gingersol aims for an epic feel on several tunes from this, their fourth album. Unfortunately, would-be album centerpieces like the wistful and nostalgic “None of My Friends” and the plodding “Empty Canteen” don’t need to go on for nearly as long as they do. And main frontman Steve Tagliere’s generic, sandpaper-y vocals often wear out their welcome even on the shorter songs.
What saves some of these songs and allows them to transcend rock and roll cliché is the interesting arrangements and production of other Gingersol main man Seth Rothschild. Examples include the dreamy guitars and synths of “You and Your Clouds” and the lap steel and Middle Eastern riffs of the early-Wilco like “Yesterday.” An occasional diverting lyric helps as well. “That’s what I get / For marching to the beat of my own drum machine,” Tagliere sings on “Blink.”
Perhaps the record’s best tune is “A Great Day For War,” which finds Tagliere waiting for the war on terrorism to begin shortly after 9/11. All too often though, Gingersol is just depressing and pretentious, as on “Birthday Girl,” or slow and dull as on “Please Let Me Go,” which features keyboard player Rami Jaffee of Wallflowers fame. You’re better off pulling out a record by Wilco or the Replacements, the bands that Gingersol clearly seeks to emulate on Eastern.