Friday 31 October 2014

Album Review - David Bierman Overdrive, 'Standard Skies'

David Bierman Overdrive, 'Marking Days'

Info: I have to admit that my knowledge of American music during the nineties was restricted to bands that everyone knew about, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Foo Fighters, The Smashing Pumpkins etc., and it wasn't until I was a bit older that I discovered great alternative bands like Pavement, Cake, Nada Surf, The Lemonheads and such like. Detroit band David Bierman Overdrive are a modern day amalgamation of 4 bands from that era, and listening to their debut album, Standard Skies, you can certainly hear that sound echoing through time to 2014. If I knew more about the alternative music scene in the States back then I could probably do this review more justice regarding perspective, but good music is good music, and here's the highlights for me.

Opener 'Clock' has a 1950's rock meets (and yes I know what I just wrote above) quirky Britpop song, like you might expect from Belle & Sebastian or some such. 'Superhuman' gets right into the contemporary rock sound, with some banging electric guitar and a youthful optimistic indie vibe. Third track 'Unmade Thing' is awash with references which again seem to come from this side of the Atlantic, there's a country feel to the guitars, but at the same time it's quite like English band James with regard to the melodies and vocals, a definite highlight on the album for me. Then we have a sudden and pleasant swing to Americana, Bruce Springsteen, slide guitar, a bit of Wilco even, on 'Fountain' and 'Come On', before above track, 'Marking Days', another favourite of mine, takes on a country-punk hybrid sound, a combination I thought I'd never see myself describing! Other highlights are 'Swept Away', again the electric guitar is so good from start to finish on this track, and you get a feeling that this track is a retrospective ode to youth. The punk returns on it's own this time on 'This Is The Chorus' before an alternative version of Aretha Franklin's 'You Make Me Feel', à la Van Morrison, leads the album to a close. Standard Skies is a melting pot of many different styles of music and proof that you should never stop making music until the fat lady sings. 

David Bierman Overdrive, 'Swept Away'

Additional Info: 

David Bierman was lead singer of Detroit’s Junk Monkeys, a seminal alt-rock band that released several albums in the late 80's / early 90's. Their last two releases on Metal Blade/Warner Bros, Five Star Fling and Bliss, both featured "hook-laden power pop/punk inspired by 70's legends like Cheap Trick, Big Star and the Flamin' Groovies." (

MusicHound’s Rock: The Essential Album Guide called 1992’s Bliss, "One of the best guitar-pop releases in a decade rife with great ones."
But the band, and Bierman, essentially closed shop in 1994. Until now.
David Bierman Overdrive, then, is a welcome surprise from a Detroit rocker who’s been silent for 20 years before wandering into Ferndale's Tempermill Studios earlier this year with a handful of songs, and an impressive band ready to help bring them to life.  
"I sent some pretty rough-sounding demos to friends I really wanted to play with, and hoped they’d be into it. Luckily for me, they all were." Bierman said. "We kept it really loose and just let each song follow its course."

David Bierman Overdrive are:

David Bierman – Vocals, Guitar 
Jim Faulkner - Drums  (Blueflowers, Beggars, Sugar Clouds)
David Feeny - Pedal Steel, Organ  (American Mars, Blanche)
Stephen Palmer - Guitar  (High Strung, ex-Back in Spades)
Kevin Perri - Bass  (Brian McCarty’s Big Bad Beat, The Dives, ex-Junk Monkeys)

*With help from the Whiskey Charmers' Carrie Shepard, the Legal Matters and guitarist Patrick Butler.

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