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Indigo Dreams

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Album Review

Indigo Dreams is BoDeans' tenth new studio album in their 25-year recording career and their fifth album (including a live disc) since they ended their eight-year hiatus in 2004. It follows their last LP, Mr. Sad Clown, by less than 16 months, suggesting that now that the band is recording for its own He & He label, there is an incentive to be more prolific. As ever, BoDeans are a cooperative between Kurt Neumann and Sammy Llanas, two differing but complementary musical personalities. All the songs are co-credited to the two, but like such songwriting teams as Lennon/McCartney and Difford/Tilbrook, they seem to write songs separately, or almost so, with two distinct personalities emerging. What appear to be Neumann's songs (on which he sings lead vocals) tend to be examples of songwriting craftsmanship, like the lead-off track "Blowin' My Mind," an evocation of ‘60s pop/rock down to the slangy title. Llanas, on the other hand, is altogether idiosyncratic, often nakedly emotional and willing to use specific, personal details in his lyrics. In the love song "Way Down," for instance, he provides this verse: "I remember very clearly/We were drinkin' vintage sherry/You left a little drop on your lower lip/I leaned over, and I licked it." Just as they exhibit different writing styles, the two bandleaders have different singing styles, with Neumann displaying a sturdy tenor that has taken on a slight grain over the years, while Llanas has a somewhat whiny but more distinctive high voice. If this were a comedy act like Abbott & Costello, Neumann would be Bud Abbott the straight man, and Llanas, Lou Costello, the clown. But neither of them is trying to be funny on Indigo Dreams. In fact, they are almost in competition to see who can be more melancholy. Llanas scores first with "Paved in Gold," the song that gives the album its title, as he provides pocket descriptions of people who aspire, but are disappointed. "No one ever dreams of being old," he sings, "Everyone sees their indigo dreams paved in gold." For his part, Neumann looks with sadness at what seems to be a romantic relationship, or perhaps a long-term friendship, that's heading for the rocks in "How Can We," asking, "How can we go on?/How can we stay strong?/How can we even try/To say goodbye?" Both musicians take comfort in music itself, with Llanas reminiscing about the joy of singing old songs (many from the ‘70s) in "Sad Eyes," which uses enough of Robert John's hit of that title to earn him a co-writing credit. The music is the only good thing recalled in the hard-rocking cautionary tale "Rock N Roll Overdrive," which seems to be an autobiographical account of BoDeans' unhappy encounter with the major-label music business in their early days. By the album's end, with "Mercy," Llanas is confessing his sins to a priest and seeking salvation. It's a hopeful end to a collection in which he and his longtime partner seem to have reviewed their personal and professional histories with a combination of affection and regret. [On August 18, 2011, 23 days after the release of Indigo Dreams, Sammy Llanas announced his departure from BoDeans.]


Formed: 1984 in Waukesha, WI

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Formed in 1984 by high-school friends Sammy Llanas and Kurt Neumann, the BoDeans mixed Midwestern roots rock with elements of adult contemporary pop, fashioning a sound that earned critical acclaim during the '80s and commercial recognition during the following decade. Llanas and Neumann fronted the group by sharing vocal and guitar duties, while bassist Bob Griffin and drummer Guy Hoffman populated the rhythm section. Although based in Waukesha, Wisconsin, the BoDeans began building an audience...
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Indigo Dreams, BoDeans
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