Minus 5 Old Liquidator

By Scott Byron
Source: Consumable Online
The Minus 5 is one of those groups that's not really a group, and not really a vanity or solo project. It's a loose collective of friends who (for the most part) are based in Seattle, centering around Scott McCaughey, best known as the leader of the unjustifiably relatively unknown indie-pop group The Young Fresh Fellows. McCaughey is also one of the extra musicians that R.E.M. has taken out on the road this year.

Not so coincidentally, R.E.M.'s Peter Buck is one of the principal musicians here, along with Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow of the Posies. Think of a well-blended combination of those three groups represented, and you'll have some idea what you'll find on Old Liquidator, the band's first full album. The musicians' collective influences hover over much of the album, too; don't be surprised if a guitar strum makes you think of the Byrds, a harmony recalls the Beatles, a texture evokes the Velvet Underground, or an organ line brings the Beach Boys to mind. It's all very loose and natural and even fun.

That said, don't expect all pop smarts and sweetness. McCaughey's songs are an odd little bunch, indeed full of hooks by the dozen, but also laced with strange undercurrents and outright unpleasantries running through the lyrics.

Possibly what's most refreshing about this album is that it seems so uncalculated. In a time when the marketing and imaging of "alternative" has become a science, being this real and loose has an extra appeal. It's definitely worth checking out.