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Always Be Drunk

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Album Review

The cover imagery and titles suggest something of the '90s' strain of British albums revolving around dark pubs, moody late nights, and emotions rubbed just raw enough to surface. Mellow Drunk's debut album, however, turns out to be more Byrds and the Church than Scott Walker and Tindersticks, though there is definitely something of whispery melancholy throughout Always Be Drunk. Gregory's background in various psych/goth-inspired groups serves him well here, and clearly there's something of Steve Kilbey's world-weary vocals in his own approach. There's a fair dollop of Ultra Vivid Scene as well, minus the nods to dance culture and overtly twisted sex, but Gregory can sigh in Kurt Ralske-style nicely. Musically, meanwhile, those who can't get enough of ringing-guitar sorrow and wistful, dreamy melodies will find Always Be Drunk a more than engaging listen; it's not strikingly original, but makes no claims to be. Indeed, "Everybody Knows You're a Star" might as well be the verses from John Lennon's "Jealous Guy" transposed into a new setting with elegantly weeping feedback, but darn if the group doesn't carry it off well. There is actually one full-on cover from an inspired source, underrated U.K. guitar popsters the Orchids, whose "Long Drawn Saturday Night" gets a beautifully winsome rendition, with Aaron Kerr's cello part the perfect touch. Gregory is actually pretty much the group on this outing; aside from a cellist, drummer, and two backing singers, everything is his, aside from a couple of guest appearances here and there. As such he does a great job on rhythm and solos both, and if Always Be Drunk rapidly finds its niche and pretty much sticks with it, there's little to complain about with the results.


Formed: San Francisco, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Better a mellow drunk than an abusive one, to say the least, and Leigh Gregory's musical project certainly doesn't sound like it's about to bust one's head open. Based in San Francisco, Mellow Drunk was initially practically a one-man project by Gregory, a veteran of a variety of groups for numerous years before that, including Connecticut's Dispossessed in the late '80s and San Diego's Miles From Nowhere in the early '90s. Drawing on a variety of darker psych forebears old and young -- most notably...
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Always Be Drunk, Mellow Drunk
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