Reviews

Postcard Club press clippins

CASSETTE GODS
Somehow this romantic love letter to the Gods of Rock and Roll skipped past my earbuds at first listen. I believe it was my acquirement of a refurbished cassette deck, an upgrade from my Radioshack Walkman, that made me listen to this release in a different way. Also, I must admit I have a prejudice towards the stereotyped genre of "douchebag with an acoustic guitar", which is very unfair. It's just when a guy like Lurie comes around and croons his heart melting Americana lyrics about unrequited love and the natural beauty of changing seasons like a BOSS, it can be intimidating. This guy is LEAGUES ahead of a lot of rock bands I've listened to when it comes to leaving an emotional impact in the heart of his audience, and he does it with an xylophone, bro! Here at guitar Gods, I mean Cassette Gods (which brings me to another point, Garrett Burt, the guitarist on this, can shred!), we're used to songs about drugs or just reverberated gobble-dee-gook, not heart to hearts! I'm gonza cry here...

Lurie is a natural narrator who understands how to tell a story through song. He understands restraint, volume and how to make dramatic sonic entrances and exits. His modest folk songs crescendo with loose electric guitar solos, banjos, mandolins, lap steel, synth, piano and glockenspiel klinks.

I hear the CARS (for real, some of these guitar solos are that epic!), Real Estate, a lil early Magnetic Fields, Sea & Cake, early Belle & Sebastian, but all those bands just taken down a hair with an acoustic guitar as the centerpiece.

A very well orchestrated album of contemporary folk rock. JACK TURNBULL

PORTLAND MERCURY
Following up 2011's super-amiable Spirit of '98, Dan Lurie's latest is a just-as-charming collection of songs he originally released on a series of digital EPs. Postcard Club's 12 tunes were recorded on a Tascam cassette eight-track recorder in Lurie's spare bedroom, and then sent to Virginia for co-producer Daniel Dominic Mancini to add his own shading. The result is an intimate but fully ripened album of Lurie's terrific tunes, packed with chunky folk turns and sweater-warm melodies. Lurie has released Postcard Club—the songs derived their inspiration from a series of thrift-store postcards—on cassette (fittingly) in a limited edition of 50. Tonight's release show is your surest bet to get one before they're gone forever. NED LANNAMANN
 

Spirit of '98 press clippins

PORTLAND MERCURY
Local singer/songwriter Dan Lurie went to Ohio University—not THE Ohio State University—in the late '90s, but it's only now that he returns to the Athens, Ohio, campus on Spirit of '98. A sparse bedroom recording of songs influenced by his college days, Spirit is hardly an Animal House ode to partying down—although booze is plentiful, most obviously on "Carlo Rossi," his salute to wine that gushes from a jug—nor is it an introspective look at lessons learned from wise leather-elbow-patched professors amid the fallen leaves of a sprawling campus. Instead Spirit is a very pleasant recording of sweet nostalgia, handholding romances, and the fleeting nature of youth, all capped by the remorseful voice of Lurie. Such sweet collegiate sentimentality makes me regret getting my degree in VCR repair through the mail. You lied to me, Sally Struthers. EZRA ACE CARAEFF

WILLAMETTE WEEK
Sometimes an album endears itself to you in such a personal way that you’re sort of embarrassed to play it for friends, in fear they might not get it. Dan Lurie’s Spirit of ‘98 is fast becoming one of those albums for me. The 10-song collection—a self-recorded concept album of sorts about Lurie’s college days in Ohio—is ridiculously sentimental and naively straightforward, describing college in vignettes about drinking Carlo Rossi and eating fast food (the lyric “If you’re gonna eat chicken sandwiches all week long/ You deserve much more than a Burger King crown” may not be timeless, but it strikes a bit close to home). My brain tells me that Spirit of ‘98, which sounds kind of like a demo tape from the Rentals’ Matt Sharp, is something less than transcendent genius. But my heart just can’t get enough of it. It’s a sweet, heartfelt disc, and its spirit conquers any of Lurie’s musical shortcomings. CASEY JARMAN

THE DELI
An album of memory-soaked lo-fi that peels out of the speaker like a ray of sunshine, Dan Lurie's first solo release The Spirit of '98 speaks a vast volume for being just 10 tracks. Based on his college life (which includes the staples of our own collegiate experience -- "girls, and cheap beer, and cheaper vodka, meeting friends, losing friends, remembering some, forgetting others, and discovering who you are"), it's been eleven years coming, amidst the fruit of his seemingly neverending musical cornucopia (Solyoni, The Thrifty, The Grapefruit League, etc.). Between a $25 guitar, a miniature grand piano, an 8-track cassette recorder and a handful of other toys, Lurie's laid down 10 tunes that swing from nostalgic romps to sonnets singing the real thing. At times it reminds me of early/live Elliott Smith, at times Bradford Cox, at times it reminds me of nothing (in the most melodic way possible). Why he's been hiding The Spirit of '98 away since then is beyond me, but I'm glad it's out. Thanks for bringing me back to college, Dan, and this time without the endless hangover. MIKE HARPER 

LEICESTER BANGS
Dan Lurie of the magnificent Solyoni has produced his first solo album and like the first Solyoni effort, the awesome “Prairie Monsters”, this is a concept album. The Spirit of ‘98 is a collection of songs about his time at Ohio University, suffused with longing, melancholy and joy. While Lurie can’t remember all the names of old friends on “In Answer to Many Friends”, he can remember that they listened to “London Calling”. Moments caught in the memory hold such details like flies in amber. The song fades into a hiss of dissipating memory, as hazy and nostalgic as many of the songs are. Like Solyoni offerings, it’s the last to the party, last on the disc moments that clue you into the concept. The gentle and undemonstrative delivery of these simple melodies and lyrics leaves us lost in the space between meaning, searching with Lurie for the facts and events of the past. When there is something tangible to hook onto, it is the “Chicken Sandwiches (Spring Break in Athens OH)” and the “Beer I Brought”, both songs of the shambolic joy of being young and on the lash.

I suspect Dan Lurie had something of a typical time at Uni, because I spent much of “Spirit of ’98” remembering faces and places of my own halcyon days. Typically, these were the best days of our lives and, until the next Solyoni album, this is a highlight in my humdrum nowadays, the spirit of 2011. CARL J 

40 OZ ROBOT
The Midwestern rock that I grew up with encompassed a hybrid of boogie/bar rock, alt-country, and punk, all with witty, bald-faced, heartfelt lyricism. The sound was cultivated over decades: dating as far back as the early 80’s scene started by bands like The Replacements, Uncle Tupelo and Husker Du, and reaching an apex during the late 90’s. The Jayhawks, The Honeydogs, Run Westy Run, and the Minneapolis supergroup Golden Smog (to name a few)  put the finishing touches on a movement that is arguably gone, but not forgotten.

Dan Lurie won’t let us forget, either.

The Minneapolis native has turned out a melancholically reminiscent record with Spirit of ‘98, a more than obvious homage to a brilliant decade of music. And for those of us who experienced high school and college during the late 90’s, this record will no doubt hit close to home. Lurie expounds on the joys of carefree youth on the brink of independence; love and friendship lost; and various coming-of-age journeys in the Midwest.

Told with the lo-fi brilliance and warmth of an eight-track recorder, and with the help of a near-and-dear cast of characters, the sounds of Spirit of ‘98 push beyond the pallid digital world that we have become so ensconced in during the 00’s, returning to the warmth of the sun through crisp, cloudless skies on a cold winter’s day. Songs like “Jefferson,” named for a Ohio University dorm hall (“To taste smoke on the breath of a freshman from Jefferson,” Lurie croons), and “One Week Relationships” have a spin-the-bottle innocence to them, while “In Sandusky” and “Free Cable” illustrate a more mature sweetness combined with a burgeoning sense of criticality towards the world. “Carlo Rossi” and “Beer I Bought” are drinking tunes which have all the swagger of a townie bar, while “Chicken Sandwiches” (“If you’re gonna eat chicken sandwiches all week long, you deserve much more than a Burger King crown”) further illustrate the wit that pervades the record. “Answer to Many Friends” and “Free Cable” are subsumed in a gentle melancholy of times gone by.

With all the honesty of turn-of-the-century Middle America, Lurie captures and exploits the tangible essence of his youth. Maybe it’s my own Midwesternism showing through, but I find this stripped down album pretty brilliant. With a sound that mimics bands from the era, the brutally quaint Spirit of ‘98 features Lurie with his heart on his sleeve for all to see, and reminds us of the “good ol’ days” in the hopes that we will never, in fact, forget. MILES CHRISTOPHER