Matt Minor & Shot Glass

Train to Catch (Self-released)

Forget rock bands from Sweden and teen punk poppers. Somebody stop the invasion of Texas-based singer-songwriters! These generic cowpokes are popping up everywhere, and the inspiration behind their songs of romantic desperation, barrooms and outlaw behavior are gleaned more from other records than from experience. Houston-based Americana artist Minor is far from the worst of the new breed, but nonetheless delivers a record that suffers from a severe lack of kinetic energy.

Minor does have two strengths: a strong, operatic voice that can slip through scales with ease, as he does on the best track, the opener "Pardon Me All to Hell." Like that of Raul Malo, Minor's voice wouldn't seem out of place in a musical or another genre of music. He's also got a good ear for melody (if not lyrics), so even some of the lesser material sticks around in your head. Two other tracks, the shuffling "Hometown Clown" and "Cowboy Black" (in which cattle-ropin' meets caffeine) are good, but the rest of the record consists of tepid songs and even more tepid observations ("Oleander City," "Bobbie"). And there are tales of barrooms, drinking in barrooms, missing your woman in barrooms (and who comes home late from barrooms), dashed dreams and of course, a requisite train song. Really, who the hell catches trains anymore?

Minor and Shot Glass, which includes bassist Mark Sellers and drummer Manuel Perez, play competently enough, but the band is heavy on generic country runs and riffs. Overall, despite a few glimpses of something better, Train to Catch is a bland effort, and you'd best wait for a more exciting ride.

 
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