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Hold On Too Tight

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Album Review

Reid Johnson, the singer/songwriter/guitarist who is the creative force behind Chapel Hill, NC band Schooner, has a thorough knowledge of pop/rock music that he puts to use on the group's second full-length disc, Hold on Too Tight. The title may be a reference to his impressionistic, run-along lyrics, which feature an "I" and a "you" who may have, or have had, a romantic connection that is, or was, in trouble, although things are not spelled out precisely. In "Pray for You to Die," he describes one way in which such a relationship might be severed, softening the blow by setting the lyric to a doo wop ballad tune that makes the track sound like a record from the early '60s, complete with twangy Duane Eddy-style lead guitar playing. "Married" suggests another conclusion, in the sense that "you" apparently have married somebody else. But the narrative structure is for the most part simply a device to hang random observations on, and the lyrics seem less important than Schooner's music, which is simultaneously ambitious and off-hand. This may be a way of having it both ways when their tastes are sophisticated, but their abilities limited. It is supposed to be one of the charms of indie music that it has a spontaneous, thrown-together feel, so that it doesn't matter if the ideas are only partially realized. That may be appropriate when the ideas themselves are not so promising, but can be frustrating when they are. Brian Wilson, an obvious influence on Johnson ("Leaving Your Room" is something of an answer song to the Beach Boys' "In My Room"), always made a point of using the best studios and the best musicians to make his records. Schooner may not yet have those options; when they do, and when Johnson gets a slightly better handle on what he's trying to say, they are liable to make some excellent music. The potential is apparent here.


Formed: Chapel Hill, NC

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Schooner were formed in Chapel Hill, NC, by singer/songwriter and guitarist Reid Johnson and bassist Tripp Cox, later adding Johnson's sister Kathryn Johnson (keyboards and vocals) and Billy Alphin (drums) in time for the band's first recordings, made in March 2004. These resulted in Schooner's first album, You Forget About Your Heart, released by the Pox World Empire label, which the group promoted by touring the East Coast. They continued to play shows during 2005 and 2006 while working on further...
Full Bio
Hold On Too Tight, Schooner
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