For anyone who remembers Waukesha, Wisconsin's BoDeans as an '80s "college rock" band, it's not much of a shock to now see them as an "alt-country" band. And if they want to wear cowboy hats and sing with a little extra Western twang, who's to stop them? But with No Depression magazine folding and other music magazines once tethered to tight genre restrictions opening their doors to other aspects of "culture" (that would be movies, TV, video games, and, I assume, eventually home decor), it might be time to consider another option.
What exactly defined "college rock" back in the '80s was apparently the simple concept that college radio was the only place playing the music in question. Which is how the BoDeans got to share a genre with Nick Cave, Lubricated Goat, Robyn Hitchcock and Prefab Sprout. And anyone with a love for unpretentious pop songs back then who heard the group's "Fadeaway," "Angels" and "Pick Up the Pieces" probably found themselves turning up the volume and figured they'd get around to finding out more about the BoDeans someday.
Well, according to their most recent bio, the BoDeans have had eight albums in the Billboard Top 200 and multiple singles in the Top 40. (They scored the Party of Five theme song "Closer to Free" as a top 10 hit.) But their eighth studio album, Still, sounds like not much more than the work of competent, likable journeymen — that is, guys who like their guitars loud but not too overdriven; who like their melodies to pop out but not to cloy. "Waste a Lifetime" and "Found Me A Reason" could be considered additions to your Tom Petty collection, except with a different set of singers. They're still the kind of tunes you turn up when they're on the radio. But with the way things are these days, you might have to just get around to finding their 'MySpace' page and turning it up from there.
The BoDeans play Monday, April 14, at the Royal Oak Music Theatre, 318 W. Fourth St., Royal Oak; 248-399-2980.
Rob O'Connor writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.