Whenever I see bands that are named after their lead singer I get nervous. It is too often seen that narcissistic singers who get off on their pretty face throw the rest of their band to the wayside. Was I ever glad when I was listening to Elliot Schneider’s album and checked his band’s biography. Sure it’s his name on the front cover, but he openly writes his love and appreciation of all of the members of his ensemble. The group isn’t young, it shows both in their faces and in their music. With their age comes character, confidence and style. The indie music scene is often stereotyped with the image of young, half-baked kids playing out of their garage, but in truth it is so much more varied and rich than that.
Elliot Schneider’s third recorded album, Better a Fool than Aloof, really shows off some sweet sixties rock style. That being said, the group has a lot of musical influences and they have their own game and they bring it across the album. It isn’t all original tracks across the album, but when they do a cover they put a seriously killer spin on it. I particularly liked the high energy and slightly sped up cover they did of the Beatles’ song Boys.
The group is tightly dedicated to what they do and it shows as their music is well-knit and on point. They create well-practiced and well-written harmonies, instrumentally and vocally. Each member of the group gets their time in the forefront, be it with the melody or a solo spotlight. They go through a range of classic rock styles and sounds over the course of the album, and I can’t help but chuckle imagining what Schneider and his lead guitar Mark Banning must look like as they switch between styles and as they cartoonishly impersonate rock stars (as Schneider puts it in Banning’s bio section). Either way, I think that the dramatic changes between style would make for some pretty epic charades up on stage.
Lyrically, I felt like I could have been listening to a track of long lost singles from the classic rock age. All of the songs across the album felt like they were composed in that golden era. Sure, being a younger guy myself some of them didn’t quite connect with me on a lyrical base, but I don’t hold it against the songs or lyrics, I could still hear and understand the poetic practice that went into creating each song. On repeat listen-throughs every track really showed a real gleam of polish.
Better a Fool than Aloof may not fit into the modern hipster’s playlist, but if you have an appreciation for any of the classics give it a try and you won’t regret it. Elliot Schneider’s latest album is really a combination of nostalgia tied up with a bundle of hopeful optimism. Best of luck to him and the band, keep doing your jam.
by Matt Kaiser