Last Night Becomes This Morning


aec.sely99.2 2/7/06 New
$12.73 $14.98

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Review Text A moment arrives in many musicians' lives when it becomes clear that their career has peaked, that a passing mention in the local weekly and an inattentive, half-empty club is the brass ring, no matter how much blood and guts they leave on-stage. For Dayton, OH's decade-old Swearing at Motorists, that realization isn't a future abstraction or some wistful Replacements song on the radio; it's their past, present, and foreseeable future. Last Night Becomes This Morning chronicles those desperate moments of self-doubt with such excruciating honesty it leaves you wondering what motivates singer/songwriter Dave Doughman and drummer Joseph Siwinski to slog on anyway night after night. This is, in every sense, a road warrior record; the 15 songs were recorded in vans, clubs, studios, and hotels on the road, as well as in a Berlin train station. Doughman, once soundman for another oft-underappreciated outfit, fellow Daytonites Guided by Voices, recounts the ups and downs of a career spent off the radar in unflinching detail and in stark, often demo-like styles. They range from Stephin Merritt (minus the orchestration) flavored narratives ("Not Tonight") and song snippets in the manner of Fuck ("Times Zones & Area Codes") to stripped-down Ray Davies ("Waterloo Crescent") and Morphine lo-rock ("You Will Not Die Tonight"). On "Timing Is Everything," Doughman comes to grips with fame's fickleness: "The cover of a magazine is one place you won't find me." "Not Tonight" details a road-damaged relationship, while "Ten Dollars" -- about hooking up after a show and copping dope on shady street corners -- examines the attraction of the double life the road affords: "What nobody knows/Ain't gonna hurt nobody tonight." But self-awareness, Doughman suggests, exacts a heavy toll. "Sometimes nothing feels better than feeling nothing at all," he sings on the opener, "Losing the Battle, Losing the War," then finishes the thought with the only line from "Suicide on the Installment Plan," the disc-closer: "Your way of life is getting in the way of your life." "Done in a Hurry" offers a brief shot of light, but even that comes with a chaser of cold, hard truth: "disappointment," he sings, "often offers relief." Doughman is talented enough to keep such blatantly confessional lyrics just this side of maudlin, but their unrelenting bleakness begins to erode even the heartiest listener's defenses though the record spins out at a brisk 29 minutes. And while Swearing at Motorists are clearly at ease in a variety of musical styles, it's tempting to yearn for fatter hooks, more fleshed-out arrangements, or just a cathartic chorus to sing along with at the top of your lungs -- which was what made the Replacements' similar tribulations ultimately so inviting. Anything to believe that Doughman knows the sacrifice and effort is worth it in the end. ~ John Schacht

Track Listing

CD: 1

  1. 1. Losing the Battle, Losing the War - 1:09
  2. 2. Northern Line - 2:29
  3. 3. Timing Is Everything - 2:15
  4. 4. Still Life with Bottle Rockets - 2:02
  5. 5. This Is Not How Forever Begins - 2:12
  6. 6. Waterloo Crescent - 3:52
  7. 7. Time Zones and Area Codes - 1:28
  8. 8. Slave to the Kettle - 2:48
  9. 9. Not Tonight - 3:32
  10. 10. Ten Dollars - 2:10
  11. 11. You Will Not Die Tonight (Probably) - 3:36
  12. 12. Done in a Hurry - 1:07
  13. 13. Click Hern to Fakie - 1:32
  14. 14. Lost Your Wig - 1:22
  15. 15. Suicide on the Installment Plan - 2:21

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