Rhythm & Views

Kevin Pakulis

There's a lot to like on this follow-up to Yeah Yeah Yeah, but nothing spells success more than having your very own FBI file, which must surely be the case for Pakulis. Although only two songs are overtly opinionated, they pack a political wallop.

"Minuteman" is a one-sided conversation telling our self-appointed guardians of the border that they can pretty much stick it where the sun don't shine: "You rode in on a bad idea / now go home we don't want you here / go on back where you might belong / hope you can find it with your blinders on ... ."

"You Don't Get It" is even better. This talking-blues-rap is directly addressed to our commander in chief, calling Bush out on not only the war in Iraq, but his many failings that drove us there.

The remaining eight songs strive to live up to the promise of these tunes with varying degrees of success. Call it guitar-driven Americana, but that would be shortchanging Pakulis and his knack for combining Southwestern imagery with a melodic rock 'n' roll hook.

Ralph Gilmore and Larry Lee Lerma provide for a killer rhythm section on drums and bass respectively, while Dante Rosano's mariachi trumpet on "Minuteman" adds a regional flavor reminiscent of Calexico. Also, look for the arrangements that feature Duncan Stitt on keyboards, which showcase the most nuance and range in Pakulis' approach to storytelling.

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