Golden Smog—which features members of the Jayhawks, Wilco, Soul Asylum, and Big Star—distances itself from its alt-country roots on the new release Another Fine Day, instead embracing the wistful ‘70s soft rock of bands like Bread and The Eagles. In other words, Another Fine Day is blandness personified: syrupy vocals and forgettable melodies stretched out over 15 tracks and 65 dull minutes. If you love “A Horse With No Name,” you might like Golden Smog.
The “supergroup” began as a covers-based project and probably should have stayed that way. On one of the album’s few attempts at rocking out, “Hurricane” lifts a guitar lick from Siamese Dream‘s “Silverfuck” and singer Dan Murphy owes major royalties to Tom Petty (how did a guy from Soul Asylum suddenly get a Southern accent, by the way?). But despite the five different lead singers and scattered influences, Another Fine Day suffers from homogeneity. Both Gary Louris and Kraig Jarrett Johnson each give Alex Chilton impersonations, and Jeff Tweedy’s mumbly tenor is so distanced he sounds like he’s singing backup even during his solos. Producer Paco Loco’s wife Muni Camon sings lead on “Cure For This”—one of the album’s nicest songs, despite a vocalist who could not possibly sound less interested.
As for the lyrics, the less said the better, but, to give one example, the chorus to “Listen Joe” is “Surprise, surprise, everyone dies.” The songs on Another Fine Day were all composed in the studio; in the press kit, Louris describes the sessions as “four guys mumbling into a microphone and going ‘oh, this could be a song.’” Gee, you don’t say? The band sounds like they’re having fun, but they never sound particularly focused, and they rarely sound interesting. Although not unpleasant, a snooze-fest like Another Fine Day almost makes me long for a train wreck like Peeping Tom.