Review: The Minus 5 – Dungeon Gold
The Minus 5 are back with a new LP, Dungeon Gold, due for release in less than a week. Scott McCaughey’s latest lineup consists of the usual top talent. Peter Buck of REM is along for the ride once again as well as Jeff Tweedy, Ian McLagen (Small Faces), Kurt Bloch (Young Fresh Fellows), and John Ramburg (of The Tripwires, creators of 2014’s best powerpop album) in addition to other very talented performers. It’s quite the lineup and perhaps most notably, quite possibly the last work we’ll ever hear Ian McLagan. McLagan passed away in December of last year.
With Dungeon Gold, we get plenty of McCaughey’s quirky lyrics and odd musical twists and turns just as with past Minus 5 releases. But we also get some simple, great pop tunes that will stick with you after just a few listens.
The disc starts out with a couple of songs that are uncharacteristically serious such as “It’s Beautiful Here”, an exercise in seeing the glass as half full and “In the Ground”, with its ringing guitars, Byrds-like feel and philosophical look forward at the prospects of the ultimate eventuality – death. Ironically, Ian McLagan plays the Wurlitzer on this very memorable track.
With “Zero Clowns” and “Chinese Saucer Magnolias” we get the slightly less than lucid Scott. If you don’t this McCaughey, think of the twisted but lovable uncle who everyone in the family understands is just slightly out of his mind.
The second half of the recording is a pure powerpop delight. Tucker Jackson‘s pedal steel guitar in “Sorry Town” is a thing of beauty and “Remain In Lifeboat” is a hook-filled killer of a track with an infectious melody and a message we can all relate too. “Hold Down the Fort” is a bouncy pop song with a sing-along chorus you won’t soon forget. The disc ends with a countrified “The Unforeseen” with more pedal steel from Jackson.
Dungeon Gold doesn’t break any new ground, it just visits the old with the deft musicianship and lyrical insights that make for the most timeless music. Be sure to check this one out.