Archive for January, 2002

January 23, 2002

Pop Culture Press Review

Come Back Down – Aaron Scholz

Come Back Down readily confirms the promise made on Madison, Wisconsin singer Aaron Scholz’s 2000 debut Perfect Child: That he’s a songwriting force of the first class. There are echoes of at least a decade’s worth of alt-country roads in Scholz’s downhome sound, most notably his penchant for the enchanting simplicity inherent in early Uncle Tupelo recordings (Scholz’s plantive midwestern vocals bear some similarity to Jar Farrar).

Yet there are traces of Scholz’s power-pop past (as a member of the Ultramaroons), too, as in “Too High,” a plea for romantic harmony. Often employing little more than a strummed acoustic guitar and a dollop or pedal steel (and maybe a harmonica or a brushed drumbeat), Scholz’s songs traverse a wide spectrum of psychological terrain, from dean-end, small town ennui, to mortality, to a kind of zen-like search for meaning. Two song stand out an an album full of standouts: “Learn to Crawl,” which stakes out a near Crazy Horse-like frenzy, piling verse upon scarifying verse detailing a deadly dance with substance abuse; and “Old Road,” a magnetically rendered meditation on the ravages of our time.

–Luke Torn

Pop Culture Press

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January 23, 2002

Isthmus Review

Come Back Down – Aaron Scholz (Meowza Music, released January 2002)

Aaron Scholz isn’t one of Madison’s most active or widely known musicians. But if you pay close attention, you’ll notice he enjoys a devoted fan base among his peers – fellow musicians who clearly appreciate the crispness of Scholz’s songwriting.

Scholz will release his second CD, the understatedly charming Come Back Down, on Thursday, April 4, at the Annex. The disc is an easygoing set of observational tunes guided by Scholz’s amicable, no-nonsense presence as a vocalist.

The album’s 11 songs are centered on gently strummed acoustic guitar, backed by bass and drums and lightly nuanced with steel guitar or harmonica. I suspect that if you gathered 11 people together, you’d find each had a different favorite among this batch of songs. “Bartime Love” would be a good choice. An appropriate honky-tonk flavor imbues this very likeable ode to the alcohol-enabled mating ritual we’ve all been through a time or two (though, hmm, my memory of that night’s a little fuzzy). “Too High” is another standout: Producer Wendy Schneider captures a breezy, dreamy aura as Scholz crafts a vocal melody as pretty as any the Beatles or Neil Young ever penned. Or the lead track, “Old Road,” a sad look at the vacant remnants of a Wal-Martized America.

There’s plenty of country twang in Scholz’s music, but the overall feel is decidedly more pop. Scholz makes no secret of his affection for the Kinks, who serve as an obvious signpost for the uninitiated – the numbers of which should grow steadily fewer the more Come Back Down receives its due acclaim.

— by Al Ritchie

The Isthmus Daily Page