Review: The Bad Ends Are Only Just Beginning

The Bad Ends/The Power and the Glory/New West Records. 
3.5 Out Of Five Stars 

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The significance of the debut album by this supergroup of sorts, The Bad Ends, cannot be underestimated. For starters, it marks the first appearance on record by former R.E.M. drummer, Bill Berry, since he announced his retirement from the band two years after suffering a cerebral aneurysm onstage in 1997. So too, it’s significant in another way as well, given the fact that it celebrates the band’s hometown, Athens Georgia, a place that’s legendary for spawning such legendary indie heroes as R.E.M, the B-52’s, Pylon, and The Elephant Six Recording Co., among the many.

Not surprisingly then, the other members of the band are also storied veterans of the indie scene. 

Guitarist and vocalist Mike Mantione is a current member of the band Five Eight, while bassist Dave Domizi, keyboardist and vocalist Geoff Melkonian, a member of the Josh Joplin Group, and guitarist and mandolin player Christian Lopez are well up to the task of delivering on the promise and possibility this new outfit has to offer. Sean Dunn, also of Five Eight, and John Neff, a member of Drive-By Truckers, lend their assistance as well. 

Nevertheless, fanfare can only take a band so far, so it’s noteworthy that The Bad Ends eschew any attempt at typecasting themselves to fit any particular formula. Lead track “Mile Marker 29” gets things off to a rousing start courtesy of the song’s riveting refrain. The tangled tapestry of “All Your Friends Are Dying” doesn’t offer the most promising premise, but it’s intriguing nevertheless. Still, when the band slows the tempo and recasts the proceedings with some mellower melodies, the album truly hints at greater glories. The sobering “Left To Be Found,” the tender and tuneful “Little Black Cloud” and the meditative mindset of “Ode To Jose” give the listener the opportunity to delve in deeper. That said, “Honestly” could be considered the highlight overall, especially when the song builds from its subdued intro into a rapturous refrain.

Ultimately, The Power and the Glory, as its name suggests, bodes well for any future offerings that follow later on. One can only hope that The Bad Ends’ trajectory is only just beginning.

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