A Hero's Welcome is an odd album (except for the title track). At least I found a tendency to prefer every odd numbered track throughout the album. The abnormalities run much deeper than arrangement though. The artwork Wormburner chose, along with song titles, for A Hero's Welcome have a serious GBV vibe. Lyrically there is a little Pollard, but musically there are as many similarities to The Anniversary as there are to early psychedel-Genesis. What baffled me, and took me the most time to digest, are the many ways that Steve "Hank" Henry sounds like other vocalists that are neither from his genre or time. My Aunt Liz (O'Connor) is a folk singer down in The Florida Keys who once wrote a song for Gordon Lightfoot. When I was younger her acoustic would appear at every family get-together, and we'd sing songs like "Leroy Brown", "Cherokee People", and her originals which sounded a helluva lot like "Forty Dollar Pricetag" or "A Hero's Welcome". I fondly remember those times, but I've never made a habit of listening to anything that can even be likened to those early memories. The fact that Henry somehow bridges those worlds is unique, and possibly astounding, considering David Lowery, who once wrote "What the world needs now…", welcomed the opportunity to produce A Hero's Welcome.
"Autographed Copies" is the MVT (Most Valuable Track) on A Hero's Welcome. The catch of the moog make it as pop as "Friends of P", while the inner folk singer of Henry helps "Autographed Copies" become more than a flavor of the month radio song. I may identify a bit more with this song because I remember summer vacations in Wildwood ("down the Garden State Parkway"),I slept on the floor (we were on a limited budget), and my life revolved around baseball (particularly the Mets). I haven't met anyone who shared my experiences so closely until I heard "Autographed Copies", which shows the value of music. "A Hero's Welcome" is also a great track, behaving like a friend of "Motor Away" equipped with a Tommy Stinson descending bass line. I can't help but wonder if "Doctor's Orders" wasn't one of Lowery's personal faves. It seems to fit that gray area between Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker. The only track that is particularly irksome (the LVT) is "Skinny Leather Tie", which was eons better when Spoon called it "Fitted Shirt".
Guided by Voices and The Replacements grew mainly from dude rock. A Hero's Welcome shows that Wormburner does not necessarily use that mold even when it sounds or looks similar. Due to less bravado, their songs appeal to good time coed drinking, mingling, and dancing. It's not the feelings, beats, riffs, or choruses that make Wormburner new noise though; the stories combined with the aforementioned scenery make them new and, to this point, unmatched.
Tracks added to iPod: Sleepy Jane, Muscle Car, Autographed Copies, Forty Dollar Pricetag, A Hero's Welcome, Doctor's Orders
CD Info and Links
Wormburner - A Hero's Welcome