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CD REVIEW:

ENTERTAINMENT NOW
Bat Country

Take a journey off the beaten path of rock and roll, and you might just find yourself in Bat Country.

Entertainment Now is the group’s debut CD, and its stirring blend of clever lyrics, soaring guitars, grooving rhythms and one disco Stones tune make for an enlightening listening experience that will move your feet, soothe your soul and entertain your brain at the same time.  Imagine if the Beatles had forgone their earlier LPs and jumped right into Revolver off the bat, and you might get the idea of BC’s sensibility on this record.

Singer, songwriter, bassist and frontman Norm Kelsey shows a penchant for smart rhymes and tongue-in-cheek lyrics with the opening track, “Heavy Lids”, a moody rocker that sets the stage for the rest of the way.  The layered vocals from Kelsey and the wall-of-guitar sound from Henry Castro and Dennis Satterfield provide the band with some of its major building blocks.

If the group is on a mission, then “We’re Your Entertainment Now” has to be the mission statement.  This song builds step-by-step on a jangling chorus line before erupting into a verse line you won’t get out of your head for days.

From there, the next stops are a finger-popping rock tune “Can’t Endure Anymore” and the sonic assault of “Force Field”, which leads into the romantic nocturnal ballad “The Last Lovers on Earth”.  While elements of the Bat Country sound are always in place, the band refuses to pigeonhole itself from one track to the next.  If you don’t believe me, check out the next song, a perfectly rendered cover of the Stones’ classic “Miss You”, which ends the eclectically named Side A.

Side B (with a warning NOT to turn your disc over), starts with “Bad Penny Blues”, arguably the band’s best number.  The combination of a distorted rock line played on single notes on one guitar with the chirping funk tones of another are the foundation for Norm to deliver his thoughtful-yet-playful lyrics.

But the disc’s real lyrical highlight is “Jesse James”, a clever song that rewards the attentive listener by crossing up a legendary outlaw with a hacker.  Then “Downhill Racer”, which goes by as fast as the title implies, leads into the “Entertainment Now (Reprise)”, highlighted by drummer Larry Doran cutting loose for a tasteful bit of flash.

But no musical journey would be complete without an encore, and Bat Country delivers one more track:  the dreamy “Leaving Me”, a tune that’s an aural journey in and of itself.  All lights should definitely be switched off for this one…you’ll be saving electricity while enjoying the band painting musical pictures at the same time.

This is a foursome that knows the value of understating themselves and keeping the music in the forefront.  I can think of very few bands who have the confidence, integrity and courage to weave such a tapestry of styles, sounds, and influences together in a primary recording.  Those who do usually find they’ve lost their own voice in the process. 

But  Bat Country proves with Entertainment Now that bands with clear visions, good songs and superb musicianship can venture far and wide across the musical horizon while keeping their signature firmly stamped on every page of the passport.

For more information on Bat Country, or to contact the band, or to order your own copy of Entertainment Now, visit their website!