Jezebel Music Review
Wow. Even I didn't see this coming: Dan Costello has—without a doubt—released the most engaging, humorous and well-executed indie release in the Antifolk scene this year. Run, don't walk, and pick up a copy of Halloween Baby today.
Jaymay may be the darling songsmith, Brooke Pridemoore may wear the barstool heart, the Bowmans may harmonize everyone else into the ground, but piano man Costello has crafted the CD that you will want to spin the most. What set Costello apart from the pack are his musical intelligence and the large record collection that fuels it. The man has obviously done his homework on what makes a record work. Costello juggles genres with the best of them: country, Broadway tunes, rap folk, roots pop, ragtime, it's all here. Lyrically, our hero wrestles with love, a stale pot habit, lucrative but constricting day jobs, and the Lorimer Jail (the classic cut gets the key second slot). Great rhymes, too ("I went to school, I smoked some Buddha/I researched Shakespeare on my compu-tah"). All the right production choices have been made by Ben Godwin; these aren't the kind of sounds that happen by accident. Mics have been placed thoughtfully, the drums sound fantastic, call-out choruses hit with effective impact and the mix is perfect. The song sequence sets a pace that never lags, the instrumentation is varied and the side musicians are aces.
This is a solid collection of tunes. I suppose that people who want to quibble about songwriting (you know, those snobby folks who think Ron Sexsmith is God) will find a line or melody that isn't as strong as the rest, but Costello is staking no claims to the "next Dylan" moniker. On Halloween Baby he has played to his strengths: you will be so busy singing along, nodding your head and tapping your feet that you won't notice anything other than how much fun you're having. And the best material will be in your head long after you've turned off the CD player. I don't know how else to say it: I've bought over 100 CDs this year. Springsteen, King Crimson, Slayer, Olivia Tremor Control...this is the only recording that I have repeated more than 3 times in a sitting because I couldn't consider putting on something else. And with listenability like that, who NEEDS Springsteen? Well OK, we all need the Boss, but you get the point. Bruce even gets a strong nod on this record, from the female name dropping in the lyrics to the title track, which plays like a bratty outtake from Born to Run.
This is Dan Costello's debut release and he has hit the ground running. Antifolkers, the bar has been set. Try and beat it.