By Steve Weinstein
By Bryan Bierman
By Lindsey Rhoades
By Chaz Kangas
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Jena Ardell
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Katherine Turman
On Necktie Second, Find a Door, and Spacey and Shakin', Pete Droge laid down a plethora of tracks that I personally have found middling to major pleasure out of since the mid '90s: good tunes, swell singing, positively terrific guitar playing. I'm mostly Petty-phobic, but if radio tracks "It Doesn't Have to Be That Way" or "Eyes on the Ceiling" had borne Tom's imprint, they'd now be stock classic-rock staples like "Free Fallin'."
A year ago, however, Kim Richey (my other roots/Nashville-renegade '90s favorite, similarly with three mostly terrific long-playas) wandered up to the Northwest and delivered an album titled Rise with Droge and some of his crowdand it was a snooooozer. Pete Droge's new Skywatching is more of the same: soporific, lazy, hazy. Wake me up when someone changes the cable channel!
And The Thorns, uh, eh . . . OK, I can see the dangers that loom fore and aft whenever three well-meaning guys aim for vocal harmonies and their names aren't John, Paul, and George.
Word is Droge, Matthew Sweet, and Shawn Mullins "worked up the harmony blend during the actual writing process" (not in Hell's Kitchen). Coulda fooled me: This sounds just like CSNY's second dreaded affront to musickind, which made me wanna go all Columbine when it blared out before every U of Texas-Austin student-movie feature attraction during 1971.