Andy The Door Bum - The Mt. Holly Sessions
Straight out of the dumpster in back of Charlotte NC's world-famous Milestone Club comes Andy The Door Bum (aka Andy Fenstermaker), a sort of legend in those parts according to the press release before me. Apart from his aspirations as a singer-songwriter (of sorts), Andy can be found checking IDs and adding to the club's atmosphere at the front door, hence the name. That name also has something to do with the man's unkempt appearance. Of course what matters most here is what the guy is putting out musically. The Mt. Holly Sessions is 17 mostly-quick hits of a brew of styles, from 2-step to rockabilly and an acoustic punk/hardcore attitude. Before I dig into the meat of the album, let me just say that the quality that redeems the album from it's shoddy production and mostly baked and broken tracks is the sheer atmosphere of up-closeness and immediacy that clings to The Mt. Holly Sessions like stink to...well, you know. No matter how bad it is at heart, below it is a feeling of quiet power that you can't help but get caught up in.
That being said, what we have here is mostly a collection of ideas, a few fleshed-out songs and mostly it comes off as an audition tape more than an actual LP. Whether or not this was intended is not up to me to judge, but you get the feeling Andy simply wanted to show his worth as a multi-instrumentalist within the confines and atmospheric qualities of a small studio, bringing that previously mentioned feeling of closeness and urgency. The first true song, "Parrot Anthem" is the best song of the bunch, a slow and moody blues-tinged ode to the worst hangover of your life. This is the type of song I think Andy The Door Bum aims to perfect, the ones he holds more personal. "Ode To Extinction" is a more experimental number, with it's drawn-out melodies and a 60's-hippie-rock feel in the lyrics and beat.
It's a shame the material doesn't always hold up. If it's not the production bogging down Andy's vision, it's the vision being bogged down by whatever stigma rises up in him and says "Hey, do exactly what doesn't make sense and hope it works". Still, with such a limited array of quality recording materials, can you really expect Bob Dylan? No, you can't, but what it comes down to is "is the music good or is the music bad?" It's mostly bad, but it's the sort of bad that never sees good disappear completely. And when it's good, when the integrity of the music matches the imagery and perceptions we're meant to have about Andy The Door Bum, it's quite impressive. But that may only be because the expectations lower with each short, droning piece of acoustic depravity. I can't put my finger on it, but The Mt. Holly Sessions is a valuable part of my collection. It's an underdog story of the most clear sense of the word, played out in the shadow of one of the country's most prominent rock clubs. It represents a feeling we've all had, when looking up at our favorite bands on stage.
"I want to do that...I can do that".
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