Anything but a burden

by Matt Edwards

Don’t be fooled into thinking that just because this is Golden Shoulders’ debut release that the band is full of amateurs. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Golden Shoulders is comprised of members of Jackpot, Deathray, The Gears, and, most notably, Cake.

Even though you may not recognize most of the names above, the point is still there: These guys have experience. And it shows.

Sporting a sound reminiscent of later Beatles material, “Let My Burden Be” is a thoughtful and diverse record.

The group’s lead singer, Adam Kline, wisely used his years with The Gears to hone his singing and songwriting skills, and it truly shows with this release.

It is hard to nail down the sound of Golden Shoulders because it is full of rock, pop, folk and even some country elements throughout the record. Adding to this variety are the guest contributions of several other artists. Most notably are the female vocals, which lend backup on nearly one-third of “Let My Burden Be.”

You probably are wondering if this even sounds like anything Cake has done. The answer is yes and no. There are a couple songs that evoke memories of the Cake sound instrumentally, yet the lyrics are not quirky or as catchy.

Golden Shoulders is really focused on the great songwriting and combining pop elements together that compliments the lyrics, and vice versa. With “Let My Burden Be” they have made a great attempt at doing just that.

On some of the tracks you can tell they’ve nailed it. The album’s first cut, “Do You Know Who You Are?” is a prime example. It’s got a really solid sound, with a good hook in the chorus to keep you wanting more.

The albums eighth track, “Genius,” picks up along the same lines. The guitar riffs really stand out and draw you in.

However, in between those tracks is where the album almost gets lost. The sound becomes nearly monotonous and boring at times. You may find yourself listening to songs half way through and then moving on to the next.

That’s kind of the curse and blessing of having such a great, diverse record.

If you want great pop hooks, there’s a few. If you want a great mellow listen, this’ll give you some of that. If you have short attention span, this album may drive you nuts at times and you’ll just want to say “to hell with it” and throw some Slayer into the CD player instead.

Listening to this album will take patience. However, the more you listen, the more you will reap the rewards.

“Let my Burden Be” may not be the best choice for simply a casual music listener. Yet, someone who enjoys excellent songwriting, with thoughtful, diverse pop melodies wouldn’t be sorry to give this one a try.