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Edie Brickell and New Bohemians: Shooting Rubberbands At The Stars (1988)

Originally released in 1988, this is an album I really enjoy going back to. It features wonderful melodies, but lyrically has an unfortunate tendency to use wordplays that inadvertently lean towards “overly clever”.

Despite some lyrics reminding me of conversations I had in college with people who thought of themselves as “intellectuals”, her vocal delivery is wonderful! She has a warm, welcoming voice, where every now and then she begins to sound like a breathless, stoned hippy freaking out at how beautiful the sky is. It’s definitely unique, but her emotions are genuinely infectious. If you can accept the above description as a “given”, you’ll probably find it easy to sit back and enjoy this fantastic album. It’s an album that grows on you with each listen.

The biggest hit of their career came in the form of album opener What I Am. It is a great number that swings lazily back and forth across it’s choppy up-stroked guitar riff. If for no other reason, the album is worth hearing for this song alone. It’s a fantastic piece of pop rock with a great melody, a funky rhythm, popping bass, and gently chugging organ that bubbles along in the background. If you enjoy this song, you will undoubtedly enjoy the album.

Edie Brickell‘s vocals suit the song perfectly, singing as though she has is half-asleep and experiencing some kind of ecstatic awakening. Has she reached nirvana via some kind of dream state or is she just naturally effervescent? It’s hard to tell, but it’s infectious.

The sing-song lyircs are absolutely catchy, but I distinctly remember them annoying the hell out of some people when this song was first released. If it suffers from anything, I think it suffers from the fact that the wordplay is too clever by half, and comes across as a bit forced. Rather than feeling genuine, it sometimes sounds like a smart-ass trying to sound deep. Despite this, the construction and production of the song is so wonderful that I find it easy to overlook. It is what it is, if you know what I mean:

Shove me in the shallow water/Before I get too Deep/

What I am is what I am/Are you what you are or what?

A2, released as the third single from the album and inspired by Andy Wahol‘s “Girl of 1965” Edie Sedgwick (the titular Miss S), Little Miss S is just a great track! The vibrato on the guitar is just superb. This is another one of those songs that you just want to immerse yourself in and sing along with. As with much of the material, it has some odd lyrical choices, but in this case they sound more resigned to their fate than intentionally snarky. It works.

A4 The Wheel is another track that’s particularly worth talking about. The chorus makes me smile. Here the band has relaxed a bit and, although they are still attempting to talk about “important” ideas, they manage to be playful in the melody and the execution of it. It’s another song that, once it gets going, always manages to feel fresh and joyful.

Love Like We Do (A5) has a great driving bass and a bouncy guitar motif that echoes the joy of the lyrics. It evokes feelings of throwing your hands up in the air and singing out loud to the sky as you come to realize that you’re the luckiest soul alive. Edie Brickell described the song as “We’re Broke and we’re ugly”. That may be, but they’re in love and they’re happy.

The second single to be released from the album closes out side A of the album, Circle (A6). This song about being a part of a circle of friends, is among my favourites from the album. I’m not alone in liking it either, as it has been licensed and used in a few recent American television shows including Ugly Betty and Cold Case.

Side A is definitely my go-to side of this album. There really isn’t a bad track among them and the vibe is mostly upbeat and hopeful. It’s a great way to spend 20 minutes. There are a couple of songs on the B-Side that I really like, but although it is a great listen, overall I don’t find it as strong or as compelling as the A-Side. The two standout songs that I particularly like on side B are Beat the Time and Nothing.

Beat the Time is an upbeat number that sounds like an unholy union between pop, rock, and country-picking. Nothing, on the other hand, is more a straightforward pop rock song with hints of folk, that (funnily enough) reminds me a little bit of some of the music on Paul Simon’s 1985 LP “Graceland” (I say funnily enough because Edie Brickell married Paul Simon in 1992).

Once again, both songs have these weird, slightly off-kilter lyrics that are so omnipresent on the album. In the case of Nothing, though, they strike me as funny. It feels like we the listener are finally let in on the joke as opposed to being kept at arms length by the clever lyricist of What I Am.

There’s nothing I hate more than nothing/Nothing keeps me up at night

I toss and turn over nothing/Nothing could cause a great big fight

My impression of this album is that it is a real delight. It is a hidden gem that, despite a few rough edges, really shines on repeated listens.

Sadly, Edie Brickell and New Bohemians were among the hundreds of artists whose original master recordings were listed as being destroyed in the 2008 Universal Fire. Luckily, the music itself has not been lost. Here is a playlist that features all the songs I spoke about in this piece. I hope you enjoy!

What do you think? Had you heard of Edie Brickell and New Bohemians ”Shooting Rubberbands At The Stars” before? Are you a fan? I’d love to hear from you!

Have I missed anything? Are there any songs I should have included in our playlist? Drop me a line in the comment section below! Remember to subscribe so that you don’t miss our next monthly (ish) post (We’ll never bother you more than once a month). PLUS! subscribers get a discount on any purchase made from us.

We have received no remuneration or compensation for anything we have reviewed in this article and the opinions expressed are genuine at the time of publication. We are not affiliated in any way with any of the products or services that may be mentioned in this article. Any suggestions or links are for your convenience only!

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