Album Review: Outerfield – Pleasant Grove Hotel
The opening lick on “Wondering If You’re Real” suggests that Pleasant Grove Hotel is going to be a swampy, Southern-fried blues rock outing. As it turns out, that description isn’t accurate of the album as a whole. With a basic, two chord foundation (see also: “Feelin’ Alright” and eleventy billion other tunes), it’s a catchy enough tune. But as the album unfolds, Outerfield shows itself to have more ideas. The production is spare and uncluttered, and the meat ‘n’ potatoes rockers are appealing in their own way. Violins (or more likely, keyboard samples therof) are effectively employed on “Voices,” a track that shows this Indiana band to have some welcome nuance. Some of the dissonant chord shadings move beyond mainstream pop into something a bit more ambitions, but still accessible. “Stay the Same” has a sort of Black Crowes vibe, with lots of busy guitar lines. “Getting it Right” is classic pop. The album gets more varied as it goes along, but the songs all fit together to provide a portrait of an interesting act. At times the vocals seem a bit enervated, but then there’s a stomping rocker like “Vending Machine” that pumps up the volume. “You Weren’t Done Yet” comes as a late-in-the-album surprise, nailing the woozy, dissolute, raggedy vibe of Big Star’s Third.
About the Author
With a background in marketing and advertising, Bill Kopp got his professional start writing for Trouser Press. After a stint as Editor-in-chief for a national music magazine, Bill launched Musoscribe in 2009, and has published new content every business day since then (and every single day since 2018). The 4000-plus interviews, essays, and reviews on Musoscribe reflect Bill's keen interest in American musical forms, most notably rock, jazz, and soul. His work features a special emphasis on reissues and vinyl. Bill's work also appears in many other outlets both online and in print. He regularly hosts lecture/discussions on artists and albums of historical importance (including monthly events Music to Your Ears and Music Movie Mondays), and is a frequent guest on music-focused radio programs and podcasts. In Spring 2023 he is co-teaching a history of Rock 'n' Roll at UNC Asheville's College for Seniors. He also researches and authors liner notes for album reissues -- more than 30 to date -- and co-produced a reissue of jazz legend Julian "Cannonball" Adderley's final album. His first book, Reinventing Pink Floyd: From Syd Barrett to The Dark Side of the Moon was published by Rowman & Littlefield in 2018, and in paperback in 2019. His second book, Disturbing the Peace: 415 Records and the Rise of New Wave, was published in 2021 by HoZac Books. His third book, What's the Big Idea: 40 Great Concept Albums will be published in 2024. Read even more about him here.